Depression is a mental health disorder that most people know at least something about. No small number of people have personal experience with depression, and even more, have had someone in their lives affected by it.
Even though there’s a growing awareness about the issue, it doesn’t mean that depression stats are well understood. To a degree, this has the potential to shape the public perception of depression. Increasing the understanding of the statistics and trends means increasing the way society thinks about depression and related conditions.
Here are some notable statistics about depression, one of the most pervasive mental health conditions facing American adults.
How Does Depression Rank Against Other Disorders?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 16.1 million adults in the United States are struggling with depression — called “major depressive disorder” — at any time, an estimated 6.7% of the adult population.
Additionally, depression is a leading cause of disability in the United States for ages 15 to 44.3. In terms of total prevalence among U.S. adults, depression ranks second overall, behind anxiety disorders (18.1%) and above post-traumatic stress disorder (3.5%).
Are There Different Levels of Severity With Depression?
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), depression is a single, diagnosed and recognized mental health condition. With that said, there’s an accepted classification that allows the treatment community to assess the severity of a specific case.
- Mild depression: Mild depression is hardly noticeable in most cases. People suffering usually notice lethargy, irritation and a lack of motivation.
- Moderate depression: Moderate depression is the name for the transition as the condition becomes more noticeable. During this period, the disorder causes issues at work and in personal relationships as those suffering begin to be unable to handle their daily responsibilities.
- Major/severe depression: These are the levels recognized by the DSM-5 and are the most severe forms that carry high risk for suicide and other serious health issues.
It should be noted that only “diagnosed” depression factors into the statistics surrounding the prevalence of the condition, both domestically and abroad. This suggests that the depression stats you see here and at other sources are likely under-reported.
There are other diseases that the DSM-5 recognizes that occur in conjunction with depression, or it is one of the key indicators. They are:
- Bipolar Disorder (BD): Depression makes up one half of this disorder, which is defined by switching between manic and depressive episodes.
- Post-Partum Depression: Intense, prolonged, and unexplainable sadness that lasts after giving birth. Interested in postpartum depression statistics? By some outlets, this disorder is estimated to be as common as 1 in 5 women who give birth.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Also known as “seasonal depression,” SAD is known to present symptoms during the winters in temperate regions. While they may occur simultaneously, there is a difference between SAD and depressive episodes that come on in response to holiday stress.
- Dysthymic Disorder: A milder form of depression that falls short of the “major depression” classification.
- Cyclothymic Disorder: A milder form of Bipolar Disorder that doesn’t involve any “major manic” or “major depressive” episodes but still presents the symptoms of BD.
Global Depression Stats
We’ve already discussed depression stats in the United States, but how many have depression when we change that lens to one that’s worldwide? According to Our World in Data, depression affects around 264 million people worldwide, at least as of 2017. That’s an estimated 3.4% of the global population, considerably lower than rate of prevalence (6.7%) in the United States.
Globally, depression is more common in women than men, which mirrors the trend in the United States.
Is Depression More Prevalent in Certain Areas?
“Rich” countries like the United States and France showed higher rates of depression (LiveScience, 2013) than countries rated as lower-to-middle income (Mexico) as a general trend. Of course, this data could be thrown off. Scandinavian countries and Japan have high per capita GDPs and have low rates of depression in their citizens.
Demographics of Depression Diagnosis
While the prevalence of depression in the United States is around 6.7%, online mental health awareness publication Verywellmind.com reported in 2019 that 15% of the same population either has or will experience depression at some point during their lives.
According to the same source, the average age of onset for depression is 32.5, but the highest proportion of depressive episodes occurs between the ages of 18 and 25. It’s higher in women (an estimated 8.7% have depression) than men (only 5.3%), and it’s also higher in mixed-race individuals — a shocking 11.3% — than in people who belong to only one racial group. (Men sometimes refrain from reaching out for help with depression due to cultural expectations about gender.)
Depression and Suicide Statistics
Suicide is a very well-publicized risk of depression, especially in the most severe cases or major depression. A 2008 study performed by the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) found that 3.8% of people surveyed reported that they’d had suicidal thoughts in the previous year.
Similar research found that around two-thirds of people who commit suicide are depressed when they do it. These issues inherently go hand in hand for this reason, but it’s important to note that most people who suffer from depression aren’t suicidal.
Depression Treatment Stats
Why is depression a common explanation for suicide? Likely, it’s due to the combination of a few factors: public stigma and the lack of available treatment.
The Public Perception of Depression
While the mental health treatment community has made major strides in decades past, raising awareness about common issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, there is still work to do. Many people in the country don’t consider depression and anxiety to be real conditions. They think mental illness is something that happens to “weak” people.
Others look at people with mental illness as outcasts, individuals who are a danger to themselves and others. The lack of universal normalization of these issues is part of a wide range of issues that lead to depressed patients being unable to access quality mental health treatment on a consistent basis.
The Depression Treatment Deficit
What’s the scope of the treatment gap in the United States? One article from Psychology Today cited that less than half of the people who have been diagnosed with depression get the help they need in a clinical setting.
Among the most common reasons was that people didn’t know where to go for help. Often, even when people do know where to access treatment, they think they can make it through on their own.
Several reasons have to do with the stigma around mental illness in general. People reported that they didn’t seek treatment because they were worried about their confidentiality and what their friends, neighbors and colleagues would think if they found out.
The most common barrier to treatment, however, is the most widespread one: people reported that they couldn’t afford help for their condition.
Health Care Costs of Depression
In the past decade, the costs of mental health treatment have become more manageable. The Affordable Care Act mandates that some mental health treatments be covered by health insurance policies. Other policies passed, even some in the last two to three years, are making access to treatment for depression and anxiety easier than ever before.
With this in mind, coverage for counseling is limited under many insurance policies, and some treatments and medications may be paid for out of the patient’s pocket.
Depression Treatment at FHE
Some of the stats surrounding depression may be alarming, but there are options for those in need of quality, evidence-based treatment. If you or loved one are experiencing the signs of depression, it’s never too soon to get help. At FHE Health, we’re committed to making care for people with mental health disorders as accessible and effective as possible. Contact us today to learn more.