The Indirect Costs of Late-Life Depression in the United States: A Literature Review and Perspective

  • Snow C
  • Abrams R
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Late-life depression is a leading cause of disability in older adults and is associated with significant economic burden. This article draws from the existing literature and publicly available databases to describe the relative importance of the indirect costs associated with late-life depression. The authors found that unpaid caregiver costs represent the largest component of the indirect costs of late-life depression, with the highest level of economic burden attributed to the majority of care recipients who have fewer depressive symptoms. Other indirect costs, such as productivity losses related to early retirement, reduced ability to fulfill work and family functions and diminished financial success were mostly under-appreciated in the literature. Also, mortality cost estimates provided little clarity, employing variable methodologies and revealing mixed results. With respect to late-life suicide studies, studies approximated both economic costs and savings. More rigorous efforts to evaluate the indirect costs of late-life depression would afford a better understanding of the social and economic toll of this disorder and could influence the allocation of resources for research and treatment.




Snow, C., & Abrams, R. (2016). The Indirect Costs of Late-Life Depression in the United States: A Literature Review and Perspective. Geriatrics, 1(4), 30.

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