Depression in the U.S. is common; however most try to ignore their symptoms, even if they affect their day-to-day lives. In this country, 8 percent are clinically depressed, but most are not getting the help they need to get better. In fact, only one-third of those afflicted sought help.
According to data recently reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics, one in 12 Americans over the age of 12 suffered from depression from 2009 to 2012, the period studied. Women, particularly those ages 40 to 59 years old, are more likely to be depressed than men, with statistics showing nearly 10 percent of females versus 5.6 percent of males.
The other American populations with higher odds of being depressed are not surprising. They include those living in poverty, those over between 40 and 60, as well as those with a serious medical condition.
Those living below the federal poverty level are two times more likely to be moderately or severely depressed. The report notes that statistical differences by race and ethnicity are not as apparent as economic status. The information just notes the trend that 15 percent in poverty are depressed. It does not attempt to speculate whether the depression led to lower earnings or earning less income helped fuel depression.
The middle aged have higher rates presumably because of family, economic and work pressures. Less than 6 percent of teens are depressed (moodiness is not depression), according to the CDC report. The prevalence of depression is the same for those over age 60. But, Americans between 40 and 60 have a rate of almost 10 percent.
The findings were derived from interviews with a representative number of adults and teens as part of the federal National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The research assessed many health aspects, including mood, physical and cognitive symptoms that are generally related to depression. The researchers conducted in-person interviews with participants and asked about their depression symptoms, such as sleep and concentration issues.
Within the study population, almost 3 percent of those interviewed suffered from “severe depressive symptoms” in the two weeks before they were assessed. Another 4.7 percent described “moderate depressive symptoms.”
While race was did not impact likelihood of depression for those in poverty, it does affect the overall results. Those of African-American descent (9.7 percent) and Latinos (9.4 percent) had higher rates of depression than Caucasians (6.9 percent). The report gave not statistics for Asian Americans.
Despite the numbers, only 35 percent of those suffering from a severe depression and 20 percent of those with a moderate condition told interviewers had sought professional help. That included any mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker.
It will be interesting to see if the statistics showing that 8 percent of the population over 12 is depressed but most are not getting help will change with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The measure, which stipulates that all Americans are supposed to have health insurance, also requires plans to include mental health benefits.
By Dyanne Weiss