indirect treatment

The economic and social effects of depression fall on societies, governments, individual sufferers and their loved ones. The most evident economic effect of depression is the direct treatment costs. Many mental disorders are chronic or relapsive; leading to adverse effects of depression like enormous ongoing monetary costs from prolonged or constant treatments.

In developed countries such economic effects of depression are explicitly documented. In the USA, yearly direct treatment costs accounts for 2.5% of the gross national product at an estimate of US$ 148b, while United Kingdom’s is estimated at UK £417m. Comparatively, such information from developing countries is less obtainable but they are potentially substantial. Based on data of local prevalence and treatment costs it has been estimated that the direct treatment cost of common mental disorders in Santiago, Chile (population 3.2 million) is almost $74m, accounting for half the mental health budget of the entire country.

Indirect economic costs arise chiefly from effects of depression like lost employment and reduced efficiency among mental disorders sufferers and their families. Unlike other health conditions, the indirect costs of mental disorders are apparently higher than direct treatment costs. In the USA, indirect costs from effects of depression like absenteeism and lost productivity were estimated at $31b, nearly three times the direct treatment costs of $12b. In the United Kingdom, indirect costs were estimated at £2.97b, nearly six times the direct treatment costs of £417m.

Effects of depression like schizophrenia rake up $16b, £1.4b and CAN$1.1b in direct treatment costs in the USA, UK and Canada. These costs are much closer to their corresponding indirect treatment costs. In developing countries, due to insufficient funds inhibiting treatment, indirect costs from effects of depression like increased duration of untreated illness and associated disability are liable to account for an even larger (than direct costs) proportion of the total economic cost of mental conditions.

The burden brought by effects of depression generally falls on families unless there is a well-established market economy with comprehensive, well-funded systems of public mental health care and social welfare. Nonetheless, governments and societies ultimately pay for the effects of depression in terms of reduced national income and increased expenditure on social welfare programmes. Therefore, although treating mental disorders is expensive, but leaving them untreated costs much more.

Social effects of depression include lower quality of life; alienation and crime among neglected mentally-ill adolescents; and poor brain development in sufferers’ offspring.