Newswise — The number of Americans under care for depression and other mental illnesses nearly doubled between 1996 and 2006, and the overall cost of treating them jumped by nearly two-thirds, according to the latest News and Numbers from HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

According to the analysis by the federal agency, the number of patients treated for mental disorders, including depression and bipolar disease, increased from 19 million to 36 million. The overall treatment costs for mental disorders rose from $35 billion (in 2006 dollars) to nearly $58 billion, making it the costliest medical condition between 1996 and 2006,

In addition, the study concluded that:

"¢ Heart disease, cancer, trauma-related disorders, and asthma were among other five most costly conditions in both 1996 and 2006. Overall spending for heart disease treatment increased the least, from $72 billion in 1996 to $78 billion in 2006.

"¢ Spending for cancer treatment went from $47 billion to $58 billion; asthma costs rose from $36 billion to $51 billion; and the cost to treat trauma-related disorders climbed from $46 billion to $68 billion.

"¢ In terms of average per-patient cost, Cancer accounted for the highest, up slightly from $5,067 to $5,178, but treatment costs for trauma and asthma rose more steeply, increasing from $1,220 to $1,953 and from $863 to $1,059, respectively. In contrast, average per-patient spending for heart conditions and mental disorder fell from $4,333 to $3,964 and $1,825 to $1,591, respectively.

AHRQ, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, improves the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services, and how they are paid. For more information, go to Five Most Costly Conditions, 1996 and 2006: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population (

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