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MDD Relapse Boosts Healthcare Use, Costs

October 04, 2019

SAN DIEGO—Major depressive disorder relapse is linked with higher health care utilization and costs, researchers reported during a poster session at Psych Congress 2019.

“Proper management of major depressive disorder, including efforts to avoid relapse, may in turn result in a reduction of the associated health care burden,” the study team wrote.

The retrospective study assessed all-cause health care resource utilization, costs, and medication adherence for commercially insured adults with major depressive disorder prescribed a new antidepressant at baseline. A total 14,186 patients were included in the claims database analysis.

Researchers divided patients into two groups: those who relapsed and those who did not. Suicide attempt, psychiatric hospitalization, a mental health-related visit to an emergency department, electroconvulsive therapy, or re-initiation of treatment after a gap of 6 months or more signified a relapse for purposes of the study.

Also at Psych Congress: Treatment Patterns for Depressive Episodes May Signal Poor Care Personalization

Hospitalization rates for patients with major depressive disorder relapse were 16.6% at follow-up compared with 8.5% for patients without relapse. Emergency department visit rates were 54.8% for patients with relapse compared with 34.7% for patients without relapse, according to the study. Total costs, meanwhile, were approximately $12,594 for patients with relapse and $10,445 for those without.

The study also found that patients with relapse were significantly less adherent to antidepressant regimens. Just 20.2% of patients with relapse took their antidepressant as prescribed 80% or more days; among patients without relapse, 27.6% took their antidepressant as prescribed 80% or more days.

“Depression continues to be a significant source of economic burden to the health care system,” researchers wrote. “The findings from this study demonstrate that relapse of major depressive disorder is associated with an increase in total costs and healthcare utilization, as well as lower adherence, highlighting the need for efficient clinical and economic disease management.”

Lundbeck, Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA, and Magellan Health sponsored the study.

—Jolynn Tumolo


Touya M, Lawrence D, Kangethe A, Chrones L, Evangelatos T, Polson M. Incremental burden of relapse in patients with major depressive disorder. Poster presented at Psych Congress 2019; October 3-6, 2019; San Diego, CA. Poster 305.

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