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Original Research

The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders in the 1990s

Paul E. Greenberg, Tamar Sisitsky, Ronald C. Kessler, Stan N. Finkelstein, Ernst R. Berndt, Jonathan R. T. Davidson, James C. Ballenger, and Abby J. Fyer

Published: July 1, 1999

Article Abstract

Background: We assess the annual economic burden of anxiety disorders in the United States from a societal perspective.

Method: Using data from the National Comorbidity Study, we applied multivariate regression techniques to calculate the costs associated with anxiety disorders, after adjusting for demographic characteristics and the presence of comorbid psychiatric conditions. Based on additional data, in part from a large managed care organization, we estimated a human capital model of the societal cost of anxiety disorders.

Results: We estimated the annual cost of anxiety disorders to be approximately $42.3 billion in 1990 in the United States, or $1542 per sufferer. This comprises $23.0 billion (or 54% of the total cost) in nonpsychiatric medical treatment costs, $13.3 billion (31%) in psychiatric treatment costs, $4.1 billion (10%) in indirect workplace costs, $1.2 billion (3%) in mortality costs, and $0.8 billion (2%) in prescription pharmaceutical costs. Of the $256 in workplace costs per anxious worker, 88% is attributable to lost productivity while at work as opposed to absenteeism. Posttraumatic stress disorder and panic disorder are the anxiety disorders found to have the highest rates of service use. Other than simple phobia, all anxiety disorders analyzed are associated with impairment in workplace performance.

Conclusion: Anxiety disorders impose a substantial cost on society, much of which may be avoidable with more widespread awareness, recognition, and appropriate early intervention.

See our Focus Collection of J Clin Psychiatry articles on healthcare economics.

Volume: 60

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