Depression in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Depression is one of the most common forms and symptoms of mental illness in the United States, with around 7.4 percent of adults suffering from depression as of 2016. Depression is characterized by protracted feelings of sadness and hopelessness that can affect one’s sleeping and eating habits, social and work life, and daily activities. Symptoms of depression include a loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and thoughts of death or suicide. Different forms of depression include postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, persistent depressive disorder, and psychotic depression.

Depression is more common among women than men, but can occur at any age. However, the most common age at which adults experienced a major depressive episode was 20 years for both sexes, with 10.1 percent of men and 17.7 percent of women reporting such an episode in the past year as of 2016. Depression is also common among youth, with up to 19 percent of teenage females experiencing a major depressive episode in the past year as of 2016. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, depression is more common among those living below the federal poverty line, with 15.8 percent of those with a family income less than 100 percent of the federal poverty line suffering from depression, compared to only 3.5 percent of those at or above 400 percent.

Depression is a leading cause or risk factor for suicide, highlighting the importance of diagnosis and treatment. As of 2016, around 20.8 percent of adults with a major depressive episode had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year, while 9.6 percent made suicide plans, and 3.4 percent attempted suicide. Despite the seriousness of depression, it is one of the most treatable mental disorders, with the majority of patients finding relief through medication, therapy, or life changes. The most common types of professionals seen for a major depressive episode are general practitioners or family doctors, psychiatrists or psychotherapists, and psychologists. Furthermore, as of spring 2017, around 28.6 million people in the U.S. had bought medications because of anxiety or depression, with over 28 million prescriptions of citalopram filled in 2015 alone.

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