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US Adults With Depression Report Poorer Quality of Life, Greater Impairment

September 15, 2020

US adults with depression reported lower quality of life, higher work and activity impairment, and more health care resource use than those without depression, according to an analysis of survey data presented in a poster at Psych Congress 2020.

“These results highlight that the burden of depression remains high,” researchers wrote, “even among those not currently experiencing a depressive episode at time of survey.”

Researchers analyzed data from the 2017 US National Health and Wellness Survey and various scales, including the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Survey Instrument version 2 (SF-36v2), EuroQol 5-Dimension Health Questionnaire (EQ-5D-5L), and the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment questionnaire. Among respondents, 8853 had diagnosed depression, and 30,478 did not have depression.

After adjusting for demographics, health characteristics, and comorbidities, researchers found lower quality of life among adults with depression compared to those without depression. Quality of life scores were 0.67 compared with 0.78 on the SF-6D (a component of the SF-36v2), and 0.79 compared with 0.89 on the EQ-5D. Mental component summary scores on the SF-36v2 were 38.8 compared with 51.8, and physical component summary scores were 52.2 compared with 52.8.

When employed, adults with depression reported more absenteeism (4.8% vs. 1.8%) and presenteeism (20.1% vs. 9.1%) than those without depression. Overall work impairment was 22.1% with depression and 9.9% without depression, and activity impairment was 24.9% with depression and 11.9% without depression, according to the poster.

The number of health care provider visits over the past 6 months was also higher with depression than without (3.6 vs. 2.4), as were the number of emergency room visits (0.14 vs. 0.09) and hospitalizations (0.08 vs. 0.04). 

The burden of depression grew with symptom severity, researchers noted. 

“As severity increased, quality of life scores decreased,” they wrote, “and work impairment, activity impairment, provider visits, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations increased.”

Sage Therapeutics Inc. sponsored the study.

—Jolynn Tumolo


Gupta S, Li V, Suthoff E, Suthoff E, Arnaud A. Humanistic and economic burden of depression in the United States (US). Poster presented at Psych Congress 2020; September 10-13, 2020; Virtual.

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