An overview of depression

in numbers

Depression is a mental disorder consisting of a constellation of emotional, physical and cognitive symptoms.1 It is a common mental disorder affecting a large number of patients globally, with a wider impact on their friends, families, carers and employers.2


Depression is a global condition…

  • Depression affects in excess of 350 million people worldwide, and is estimated to become the leading cause of global disease burden by 20302,3
  • The estimated global cost of depression was at least $800 billion in 2010, and this is expected to at least double over the next two decades4
  • In Europe alone, depression had a socioeconomic cost of more than €54 billion in 2010 through loss of productivity (presenteeism) and absence from the workplace (absenteeism)5

Depression affects in excess of 350 million people worldwide

Affecting healthcare

  • It has been estimated that up to 1 in 5 patients present with clinically significant depressive symptoms in primary care settings6
  • There has been a 165% increase in antidepressant prescriptions in England between 1998 and 2012, and an increase of 400% in the USA between 1988 and 20087,8
  • Costs of antidepressant prescriptions in 2011 reached £270 million in the UK, and $11 billion in the USA9,10

As well as individual patients

  • People with depression are thought to be 20-40% more likely to be unemployed11
  • Patients with depression are 1.6 times more likely to develop heart disease than healthy individuals. That’s greater than the risk posed by passive smoking12
  • The risk of suicide in patients with depression is more than 20 times greater than the general population3 aims to highlight the symptom profile of depression, across emotional, physical and cognitive symptoms, and highlight the importance of cognitive symptoms in particular in the everyday lives of patients with depression. Above all, it aims to encourage you to rethink your approach to depression, and presents cognitive symptoms as an important consideration of depression symptomatology, diagnosis and management.

  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders. 5th Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
  2. Depression Factsheet. WHO. Available at: Accessed July 2015.
  3. Lépine JP, Briley M. The increasing burden of depression. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment 2011; 7(Suppl 1): 3-7.
  4. The global crisis of depression: the low of the 21st century? Summary report. Available at: Accessed July 2015.
  5. Olesen J et al. The economic cost of brain disorders in Europe. Eur J Neurol 2012; 19(1): 155-162.
  6. Zung WW et al. Prevalence of depressive symptoms in primary care. J Farm Pract 1993; 37(4): 337-344.
  7. Spence R et al. Antidepressant prescribing in England up 165% over 14 years. PharmacoEconomics & Outcomes News 2014; 704(1): 2-7.
  8. Pratt LA et al. Antidepressant use in persons aged 12 and over: United States, 2005-2008. NCHS Data Brief No. 76. October 2011.
  9. Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community. England 2001-2011. Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2015.
  10. IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. The Use of Medicines in the United States: Review of 2011. April 2012.
  11. Lerner D, Henke RM. What does research tell us about depression, job performance and work productivity? J Occ Env Med 2008; 50(4): 401-410.
  12. Chapman D et al. The vital link between chronic disease and depressive disorders. Prev Chronic Dis 2005; 2(1): A14.
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