The Weekly Mind Reader: The Cost of Schizophrenia Exceeds $170 Billion Annually

by Liz Neporent
August 11, 2023 at 10:05 AM UTC

The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry published a paper that shows psychological pain is a risk factor for suicidal ideation.

Schizophrenia creates daunting challenges for patients throughout their lives. Though it’s a condition that only affects about one percent of the population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists it as one of the top 10 reasons for disability in the US. Estimates find that the diagnosis slashes nearly 30 years of life expectancy

Schizophrenia is also a costly disease, with an estimated annual fiscal burden in the US of $173.6 billion, as it saddles patients, insurance companies, and the government with an unending stack of bills. A recent model published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry presented the scope of monetary costs of schizophrenia to the U.S. government over a lifetime. 

Key Findings

  • Compared to the general population, a person with schizophrenia will incur $1.54 million in excess lifetime costs to the government.
  • The largest economic losses related to schizophrenia include health care costs (42 percent), criminal justice/homelessness (40 percent), and lost tax revenue (18 percent). They lead to financial drain by upping unemployment, disability, incarceration, and healthcare use.
  • Productivity losses for people with schizophrenia and their caregivers added $825,000 and $53,000 in lifetime costs respectively.
  • In total, the estimated societal lifetime cost per person was $2.38 million, or $89,798 per year lived with schizophrenia. Virtually all of the incremental fiscal burden occurs within the first 35 years after symptom onset, highlighting the importance of early intervention.
  • The estimated deadweight loss to society from the excess government expenditure due to schizophrenia was $43.4 billion per year. Cost assessments didn’t account for additional costs like housing, social services, and impact on caregiver health, suggesting they may be conservative. 

This analysis tracks with findings from previous studies. It underscores how the monetary toll of schizophrenia far exceeds direct medical costs, which are often the focus of policy and cost-effectiveness assessments. 

“Schizophrenia’s direct nonmedical and indirect costs directly increase public expenses, which impact prices and purchasing power and have a real effect on societal welfare capacity,” the researchers wrote. “Consequently, investing in programs and interventions mitigating the burden of schizophrenia will ultimately impact the broader economy.”


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  • “Thready” for more psychiatry news? Follow our @clinicalpsychiatrist account on Meta’s new Threads platform. 

The weekly Mind Reader covers the high cost of Schizophrenia as well as a call to action to join Threads.


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Original Research

Psychological Pain as a Risk Factor for Suicidal Ideation: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study on Inpatients With Depression With and Without Comorbid Borderline Personality Disorder

In inpatients with depression, psychological pain is a risk factor for suicidal ideation. Those with borderline personality disorder may experience more prominent and temporally unstable psychological pain, likely underlying their vulnerability to suicidal ideation.

Ilya Baryshnikov and others

Case Report

Psychotic Symptoms Following Ayahuasca Use in a Ceremonial Setting

A 43-year-old woman with no psychiatric history developed schizophreniform psychotic symptoms after taking ayahuasca, which resolved after 1 week of risperidone treatment.

Alfonso Martínez Torres and others