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Depress Res Treat. 2012;2012:628434. doi: 10.1155/2012/628434. Epub 2012 Oct 18.

Direct health care costs of treating seasonal affective disorder: a comparison of light therapy and fluoxetine.

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1
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada M4N 3M5 ; Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To compare the direct mental health care costs between individuals with Seasonal Affective Disorder randomized to either fluoxetine or light therapy.

METHODS:

Data from the CANSAD study was used. CANSAD was an 8-week multicentre double-blind study that randomized participants to receive either light therapy plus placebo capsules or placebo light therapy plus fluoxetine. Participants were aged 18-65 who met criteria for major depressive episodes with a seasonal (winter) pattern. Mental health care service use was collected for each subject for 4 weeks prior to the start of treatment and for 4 weeks prior to the end of treatment. All direct mental health care services costs were analysed, including inpatient and outpatient services, investigations, and medications.

RESULTS:

The difference in mental health costs was significantly higher after treatment for the light therapy group compared to the medication group-a difference of $111.25 (z = -3.77, P = 0.000). However, when the amortized cost of the light box was taken into the account, the groups were switched with the fluoxetine group incurring greater direct care costs-a difference of $75.41 (z = -2.635, P = 0.008).

CONCLUSION:

The results suggest that individuals treated with medication had significantly less mental health care cost after-treatment compared to those treated with light therapy.

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