Economic burden of depression in South Korea

  • Sung Man Chang
  • Jin-Pyo Hong
  • Maeng Je ChoEmail author
Original Paper



A recent national survey in South Korea indicated that the 12-month prevalence rate of major depressive disorder was 2.5%. Depressive disorders may lead to disability, premature death, and severe suffering of patients and their families. This study estimates the economic burden of depression in Korea from a societal perspective.


Annual direct healthcare costs associated with depression were calculated based on the National Health Insurance database. Annual direct non-healthcare costs were estimated for transport. Annual indirect costs were estimated for the following components of productivity loss due to illness such as morbidity (absenteeism and presenteeism) and premature mortality. Indirect costs were estimated using the large national psychiatric epidemiological surveys in Korea. The human capital approach was used to estimate indirect costs.


The total cost of depression was estimated to be $4,049 million, of which $152.6 million represents a direct healthcare cost. Total direct non-healthcare costs were estimated to be $15.9 million. Indirect costs were estimated at $3,880.5 million. The morbidity cost was $2,958.9 million and the mortality cost was $921.6 million. The morbidity cost was identified as the largest component of overall cost.


Depression is a considerable burden on both society and the individual, especially in terms of incapacity to work. The Korean society should increase the public health effort to prevent and detect depression in order to ensure that appropriate treatment is provided. Such actions will lead to a significant reduction in the total burden resulting from depression.


Cost of illness Depression Economic burden Korea 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryKyungpook National University Hospital and School of MedicineDaeguSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryAsan Medical Center, Ulsan University College of MedicineSeoulSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatrySeoul National University Hospital and College of MedicineSeoulSouth Korea

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