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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2007 Feb;42(2):110-6. Epub 2007 Jan 17.

Economic costs of depression in China.

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School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.



A recent survey in China indicated the 12-month prevalence rate of depressive disorders was 2.5% in Beijing and 1.7% in Shanghai. These disorders may result in disability, premature death, and severe suffering of those affected and their families.


This study estimates the economic consequences of depressive disorders in China.


Depressive disorders can have both direct and indirect costs. To obtain direct costs, the research team interviewed 505 patients with depressive disorders and their caregivers in eight clinics/hospitals in five cities in China. Depression-related suicide rates were obtained from published literature. The human capital approach was used to estimate indirect costs. Epidemiological data were taken from available literature.


The total estimated cost of depression in China is 51,370 million Renminbi (RMB) (or US $6,264 million) at 2002 prices. Direct costs were 8,090 million RMB (or US$ 986 million), about 16% of the total cost of depression. Indirect costs were 43,280 million RMB (or US$ 5,278 million), about 84% of the total cost of depression.


Depression is a very costly disorder in China. The application of an effective treatment--reducing the length of depressive episodes (or preventing episodes) and reducing suicide rates--will lead to a significant reduction in the total burden resulting from depressive disorders. Government policymakers should seriously consider further investments in mental health services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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