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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;21(6):536-48. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2012.12.016. Epub 2013 Feb 6.

The excess healthcare costs associated with depression and anxiety in elderly living in the community.

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Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. Electronic address:



To estimate the excess healthcare costs attributable to depression and anxiety in a public managed care system.


The data were retained from a population-based health survey on 2,494 community-dwelling older adults age 65 years or more participating in the ESA (Étude sur la Santé des Aînés) study. Depression and anxiety were assessed using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) criteria and measured at two time points 1 year apart. Annual healthcare costs considered included hospitalizations, emergency and outpatient visits, physician fees, and outpatient medications. Health service use and costs were identified from provincial administrative databases. Costs were studied as a function of the presence (yes/no) of depression and anxiety, and as persistence, incidence/remission, and no illness. Generalized linear models with a gamma distribution (log link) were used to control for a number of factors.


Participants with depression had higher outpatient mental health-related costs. Participants with anxiety had higher total healthcare costs and specifically outpatient costs and inpatient costs. As opposed to people without depression and anxiety, persistent cases had higher mean costs followed by people with the disorders for only part of the year. Most of these differences were explained by sociodemographic and clinical factors. The excess annual adjusted healthcare costs of depression, anxiety, and comorbid depression and anxiety reached $27.4, $80.0, and $119.8 million per 1,000,000 population of elderly, respectively.


The excess costs of depression and anxiety in community-dwelling elderly are just as significant as those observed for adults even when productivity losses are not considered. Adequately managing depression and anxiety in the older adult population may lead to important healthcare cost savings for society.

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