Depression's Economic Burden Unchanged from 1990 to 2000: Cost of Suicides Plummeted

Article excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO -- The economic burden of depression in the United States remained remarkably stable throughout the 1990s, inching up just 1% in 2000 dollars from $82.2 billion in 1990 to $83.1 billion in 2000, Paul E. Greenberg reported at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

Yet these overall figures mask major changes that occurred in the economic toll exacted by depression. For example, the cost of suicide-related mortality decreased by an estimated 48% to $5.4 billion in 2000 because of a sharp reduction in the number of depression-related suicides. This was attributable to substantially increased use of antidepressants in the 1990s coupled with good economic conditions for most of the decade, according to Mr. Greenberg, a consultant in health care economics in Boston.

His economic analysis drew from numerous sources, including prescription drug sales figures, inpatient and outpatient admission data from the National Health Care Survey and National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Comorbidity Survey Replication estimates of the prevalence of depression and treatment rates, and National Center for Health Statistics data. …