Burden Of Illness And Societal Cost Of OCD


The World Health Organization, WHO, constructed a list that ranked somatic and psychiatric disorders according to the degree these incapacitated patients. OCD appeared in the top ten of the most burdensome afflictions with regard to social and occupational life (note from the author: this makes it all the more wry, or infuriating if you will, that there are still first-line clinicians who tend to belittle the symptoms of a patient as something that will go away by itself, or as something the subject must not worry about, and not think about).

Cost of OCD – some indications

  • I found an estimate of the total cost of OCD in the U.S.A., in: DuPont, R.L. et al (1995), for the year 1990, in Medical Interface, 8(4): pp. 102-109.
    * direct total costs: $ 8.4 billion* this represents 18.0% of the costs for all anxiety disorders ($ 46.6 billion)* indirect costs from lost jobs, personal suffering, and people dying form the disorder, presumably by suicide: $ 6.2 billion
    So, total costs: $ 14.6 billion. Mind, I am talking 1990 here… which means that total costs nowadays will be much higher.
  • I also checked the population statistics for the U.S. and the U.K. for around 1990. The U.K. populations formed 1/4 of that in the U.S.
    Assuming that health care coverage is the same in both countries, the U.K. would have paid $ 3.6 billion way back then. But I made the educated guess above that total costs in the U.K. will have been much higher (20% of people in the U.S. is not insured at all). Add to that that the estimate of the part of OCD patients as a ratio of the general population in the U.S. in that article was on the low side (2.1%), and that there is a dark figure that we won’t know but which will be considerable, the end conclusion must be:
    OCD is very costly. To patients and society alike.

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