Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Matthew L. Higgins

Second Advisor

Dr. Steven Hass

Third Advisor

Dr. Wei-Chiao Huang


This dissertation aims to estimate the total cost of depression and the benefits of its treatment per diagnosed depressed student in Western Michigan University. To accomplish this, first, I measure the overall impact of depression and the effectiveness of its treatment on the student school performance. The empirical evidence show that diagnosed depression decreases student GPA by 0.48 points (almost a half grade), but this impairment is reduced by treatment about 0.43 points. Further, I develop and validate different measurements of student school performance and I observe that the negative effect of diagnosed depression and the positive effect of treatment are underestimated when the subjective measurement of student school performance is employed.

Second, the student’s activities also extend outside the academic environment. The empirical evidences show that depressive disorders reduce significantly employment probabilities by 0.49 and work hours supply per week by 1.66 hours among University students. This negative impairment of depressive disorders on employment status is compensated by the positive effect of treatment for depression. I also find evidence of small reduction in the absenteeism rate for working students. An interesting finding is that student productivity is significantly reduced by the depressive disorders and is robust to alternative specifications whether the student was working at home or at an employment site. Treatment for depression induces a reduction in depressive severity which is reflected in the improvement of student productivity.

Finally, I compute the overall annual cost of depression and net benefits of its treatment to the student population. The average cost of diagnosed depression per student is $2,826.57 which consists of 41% treatment cost and 59% morbidity cost. I find that the main driver of treatment cost is counseling cost while the main drivers of indirect cost are school performance and presenteeism. The analysis indicates the effectiveness of treatment in preventing student GPA from falling, saving hours of work scheduled to work and increasing student performance at work and home. Treatment benefits exceeds the direct cost of depression by $96.42. Thus, the total net cost of depression is reduced to $232,592.25 or $1,659.88 per diagnosed depressed student.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access