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About Mental Health

National Academies Press

Enabling Discovery, Development, and Translation of Treatments for Cognitive Dysfunction in Depression: Workshop Summary

By Lisa Bain and Clare Stroud, (Rapporteurs); Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders; Board on Health Sciences Policy; Institute of Medicine


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is recognized worldwide as a major cause of disability, morbidity, and mortality. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) The Global Burden of Disease: 2004 Update, unipolar depressive disorders affect more than 150 million people around the world and represent the leading cause of “years lost due to disability” among both men and women and across low-, middle-, and high-income countries (WHO, 2008). In the United States alone, nearly 8 percent of persons over the age of 12 report current depression (Pratt and Brody, 2014).
The direct and indirect costs of MDD are correspondingly alarming. In 2010, the economic burden in the United States was estimated to be more than $210.5 billion, about half of that due to workplace costs generated by absenteeism and reduced productivity (Greenberg et al., 2015). This figure represented an increase of more than 20 percent in the 5 years between 2005 and 2010. Perhaps most troubling is the fact that depression often goes untreated or undertreated. The WHO World Mental Health Surveys showed that even in the United States, only about one-third of patients receive treatment in the first year of the disease, and face a median delay of 4 years before treatment is provided (Wang et al., 2007).


MDD has long been defined primarily as a mood disorder.2 However, more recently people have begun to recognize effects on cognition as a major contributor to the disablement that accompanies depression and to consider this an underrecognized treatment target for depression. Read More