topics Educational Resources The Cost of Depression

The Cost of Depression

In the United States, one in five adults (20%) will experience a clinically significant form of depression in their lifetime. About 7.5% of the US workforce has depression in any year. The impact of an employee’s depression extends beyond the suffering of the individual to impact family, friends, coworkers, and eventually, the bottom line.

The Personal Cost

Untreated depression can increase the chances that someone will experience another medical condition. Individuals with depression and a medical condition experience greater distress, increased functional impairment, and are less able to follow medical regimens. As a result, depression can increase medical costs and negatively affect treatment outcomes.

The Business Cost

Depression costs U.S. employers approximately $187.8 billion a year. This includes $134 billion in health care (health and mental health combined), $20.9 billion in absenteeism, and $32.9 billion in lost productivity. Research shows that untreated depression is a significant contributor to workplace disability costs, reduced work performance and “presenteeism,” absenteeism, safety issues, employee turnover, and legal costs.

Barriers to Effective Care

Effective depression treatment can improve medical outcomes, reduce medical costs and decrease associated business costs. Nearly 74% of Americans who seek help for symptoms of depression go to a primary care physician (PCP) rather than a mental health professional, and a diagnosis of depression is missed 50% of the time in a primary care setting.


Using an integrated care model, this clinic addresses clients physical, mental, and emotional needs together for better outcomes and longer lives.

Removing Barriers: The Collaborative Care Model

Collaborative Care can significantly improve outcomes by increasing the number of individuals who access and successfully complete treatment for depression. Collaborative Care implements specific interventions that promote the detection of depression, “in-place” treatment (no referral needed), and treatment adherence.

Research on the cost-effectiveness of Collaborative Care interventions, compared to that of treatment for depression on its own, is relatively new but the results are positive. Several studies evaluating Collaborative Care interventions relative to routine care in primary care settings demonstrated healthcare savings over time.

Further Reading