Study Shows Rising U.S. Depression Rates, Especially Among Teens


The incidence of depression is increasing in the U.S., according to researchers, and has risen more rapidly in young people.

A study, conducted through Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, looked at the last decade's depression trends by income, gender, and education.

“Because depression impacts a significant percentage of the U.S. population and has serious individual and societal consequences, it is important to understand whether and how the prevalence of depression has changed over time so that trends can inform public health and outreach efforts,” said lead researcher Renee Goodwin, Ph.D., of the Department of Epidemiology at Mailman.

Data were gathered from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey was completed by 607,520 respondents, aged 12 and above. Evidence for depression was based on diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV.

Analysis of the data revealed depression in the U.S. increased from 6.6 to 7.3 percent between 2005 and 2015, with the most rapid rise - from 8.7 to 12.7 percent - in the 12 to 17 age group.

Overall, the depression rates rose more quickly in the youngest and oldest age groups, the lowest and highest income groups, whites, and people with the highest levels of education. These findings correlate with recent increases in drug use, deaths owed to a drug overdose, and suicide.

The researchers note that depression is most common among individuals with limited physical and mental health care access, including young people and those with lower income and education levels. “Despite this trend, recent data suggest that treatment for depression has not increased, and a growing number of Americans, especially socioeconomically vulnerable individuals and young persons, are suffering from untreated depression,” says Goodwin.

Untreated depression is the primary risk factor for suicidal behavior, and statistics show suicide attempts have risen in recent years, particularly among young females. Though depression often goes undiagnosed, it is a highly treatable psychiatric disorder.

“Identifying subgroups that are experiencing significant increases in depression can help guide the allocation of resources toward avoiding or reducing the individual and societal costs associated with depression,” said Goodwin.

Source: Columbia/Mailman
Photo credit: Joe Penna


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