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Mental Disorders Are Costliest Medical Conditions

According to a new federal report, the number of Americans under care for depression and other mental illnesses has doubled over the last decade.

Moreover, the cost of treating mental health conditions has increased by nearly two thirds.

According to the analysis by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) the number of patients treated for mental disorders, including depression and bipolar disease, increased from 19 million to 36 million.

The overall treatment costs for mental disorders rose from $35 billion (in 2006 dollars) to nearly $58 billion, making it the costliest medical condition between 1996 and 2006.

The potential impact of health reform was not addressed in the announcement.

In addition, the study concluded that:

  • Heart disease, cancer, trauma-related disorders, and asthma were among other five most costly conditions in both 1996 and 2006. Overall spending for heart disease treatment increased the least, from $72 billion in 1996 to $78 billion in 2006.
  • Spending for cancer treatment went from $47 billion to $58 billion; asthma costs rose from $36 billion to $51 billion; and the cost to treat trauma-related disorders climbed from $46 billion to $68 billion.
  • In terms of average per-patient cost, cancer accounted for the highest, up slightly from $5,067 to $5,178, but treatment costs for trauma and asthma rose more steeply, increasing from $1,220 to $1,953 and from $863 to $1,059, respectively. In contrast, average per-patient spending for heart conditions and mental disorder fell from $4,333 to $3,964 and $1,825 to $1,591, respectively.

Source: AHRQ

Mental Disorders Are Costliest Medical Conditions

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Mental Disorders Are Costliest Medical Conditions. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 18, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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