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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 628434, 5 pages
Research Article

Direct Health Care Costs of Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder: A Comparison of Light Therapy and Fluoxetine

1Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada M4N 3M5
2Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
3Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada
4Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Canada
5School of Nursing, Ontario Training Centre in Health Services and Policy Research, McMaster University, Canada
6Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba, Canada
7Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Canada

Received 16 February 2012; Accepted 19 September 2012

Academic Editor: H. Grunze

Copyright © 2012 Amy Cheung et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. To compare the direct mental health care costs between individuals with Seasonal Affective Disorder randomized to either fluoxetine or light therapy. Methods. Data from the CANSAD study was used. CANSAD was an 8-week multicentre double-blind study that randomized participants to receive either light therapy plus placebo capsules or placebo light therapy plus fluoxetine. Participants were aged 18–65 who met criteria for major depressive episodes with a seasonal (winter) pattern. Mental health care service use was collected for each subject for 4 weeks prior to the start of treatment and for 4 weeks prior to the end of treatment. All direct mental health care services costs were analysed, including inpatient and outpatient services, investigations, and medications. Results. The difference in mental health costs was significantly higher after treatment for the light therapy group compared to the medication group—a difference of $111.25 ( , ). However, when the amortized cost of the light box was taken into the account, the groups were switched with the fluoxetine group incurring greater direct care costs—a difference of $75.41 ( , ). Conclusion. The results suggest that individuals treated with medication had significantly less mental health care cost after-treatment compared to those treated with light therapy.