How Many People Suffer From Depression? Here’s What The Statistics Show

Reviewed by Lauren Guilbeault

Published 01/07/2021

You may have heard before that depression is one of the most common mental health issues that people can experience, but have you ever thought about the numbers before? The depression rates and statistics are staggering, and in this article, you will learn about how many people struggle with depression in different demographics and locations.

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Major Depression In the United States

According to the World Health Organization, the United States is considered one of the most depressed countries in the entire world; it ranks third, just behind India and China, second and first, respectively. [1]

However, major depression rates in America can vary from state to state, and certain states are more depressed than others for different reasons. For example, those who live in the country’s northeastern region are most likely to be depressed. [2]

Despite this, how many Americans have depression in total?

Collectively, about 17 million adults or around 7 percent of those who are aged 18 or older in the U.S. will experience depression in a given year. [3]

Those in college are especially at risk, and depression in college student statistics is on a rising trend and anxiety.

Adults are not the entirety of the United States population, though, and adolescents are also at risk of developing depression and are doing so at alarming rates.

In 2017, adolescent depression statistics show that regarding those who are aged 12 to 17 years old, around 3 million individuals had a depressive episode. This accounts for about 13 percent of all adolescents in the United States. [4]

Out of these 3 million adolescents, around 2 million reported that their symptoms were severe. This represents nearly 70 percent of adolescents with major depressive disorder.

There is also a discrepancy between males and females for both groups; however, it’s possible that part of this has to do with the disorder being reported.

In the United States, females are statistically less likely to have depression than males. Still, males are also less likely to be diagnosed and seek treatment, which could have a role in the difference in depression prevalence in the U.S. between the sexes.

However, despite the potential for depression to go unreported, treatment rates have been improving in the United States, and 44 percent of adults are taking advantage of both medication and other health professional options, such as therapy versus 35 percent not being treated at all.

As for the remaining percentages, 6 percent use medication alone, and 15 percent are only seeing a health professional. [4]

While treatment statistics are on the rise for adults, and more people are getting help, work still needs to be done to improve U.S. adolescents’ rates.

Around 60 percent of adolescents don’t get treated at all, which is unfortunate because this can be a critical time period for many individuals. Many young people start to experience depression for the first time in these formidable years.

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Over time, these statistics should continue to improve as more people, especially adolescents, become educated about mental health and don’t hesitate to get help. In the United States, mental health treatment has become more accessible than ever, so progress will continue to be made regarding depression statistics in America.

How Many People Are Depressed Worldwide?

While the previous section regarding U.S. depression statistics shows that it is certainly a significant problem, major depression is truly a global issue.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression across all ages. [5] Out of the world nearly 8 billion people, this accounts for just over 3 percent of individuals with depression.

However, this percentage of people with depression may be inaccurate, and this figure is expected to be significantly higher than the value suggests

Although we know that China, India, and the United States are two of the leading countries with depression, most likely due to population alone, others may not be accounted for several reasons, which can affect the global depression rate.

Depression can go unreported in countries, especially in those with a lack of mental health resources and education and where mental disorders and getting treatment for them is a stigma.

Stigmatization can be self-imposed or based on society. It can involve different beliefs such as it being a character flaw, weakness, a form of incompetence, or a sign that someone is dangerous. Unfortunately, this can lead to prejudice and discrimination from others. [6]

The fear of being judged, avoided, or worse, being denied employment or housing opportunities, or the threat of violence is enough to make people steer away from getting the help that continues to make depression and other mental health conditions a global health concern that is difficult to fully address, especially in developing nations.

Cultural ideas that surround mental health can change over time. However, and the United States and many other Western societies are not completely free of stigmatization either. Still, they show that these issues can change over time, and people can become more supportive of others when it comes to mental health.

Comorbidity Statistics

There are many other interesting facts and stats about depression that people should be aware of outside of the numbers discussed earlier.

One important statistic of depression relates to comorbidity, and depression is a condition that frequently coexists with other conditions, like anxiety disorders and substance abuse and addiction.

When patients visit a professional either for a depressive episode or because they are experiencing anxiety, more than 50 percent of the time, it is revealed that they are struggling with comorbid anxiety or depression. [7]

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Many of the symptoms of anxiety disorders and being in a depressive state can overlap. This can create chronic problems for individuals and increase both conditions; however, they can also be treated simultaneously.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is heavily implicated in major depression and anxiety disorders, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) medications have effectively treated the symptoms of both types of mental health issues. It’s relatively safe with few side-effects.

However, as mentioned before, substance abuse can also be a problem that exists alongside depression and other conditions because many individuals depend on them to cope and mask the symptoms.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), around 20 percent of those who have a mood disorder, like depression, will also have a substance abuse disorder. [8]

Treating one or the other may not resolve both issues, so depression and a substance abuse disorder will typically be treated simultaneously to help prevent people from relapsing.

For example, someone who struggles with drinking alcohol and only treats that part of the problem may still be dealing with depression, causing that individual to fall back to old habits to cope with it.

Therapy is highly recommended to prevent this from happening because it can help give people the skills they need to simultaneously cope with both kinds of issues. There are many effective options that people can try.

Do You Have Depression?

If you think you may have depression, it’s important to not wait and take action as soon as possible.

However, for many people, they are unsure whether or not what they have is temporary and will pass with time or show signs of something more serious that needs treatment.

Getting a diagnosis for major depression will require an assessment from your doctor or mental health professional. Still, if you want to feel a bit more certain about what you’re experiencing, you can try taking this free depression test beforehand.

For many people, this gives patients the confidence and drive to act now and start getting the help they need to start living happier and healthier lives.

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Additionally, you can also find more tests on various mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders, which tend to coexist with major depression.

Conclusion

Hopefully, by reading this article, you have a better picture of just how widespread and severe that depression can be. Major depressive disorder doesn’t discriminate between anyone, and it can appear early on in life and be very persistent. Nevertheless, it is a very treatable condition if people have access to the care that they need. To find out if you may be suffering from depression, take our quick online test.

References

  1. McPhillips, D. (2016, September 14). The U.S. Most Depressed Countries in the World. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2016-09-14/the-10-most-depressed-countries

  2. Mental Health America. (, 2020). Ranking the States. Retrieved from https://www.mhanational.org/issues/ranking-states

  3. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. (2019, July 12). Depression Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.dbsalliance.org/education/depression/statistics/

  4. National Institute of Mental Health. (2019, February). Major Depression. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml

  5. World Health Organization. (2020, January 30). Depression. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

  6. Corrigan PW, Watson AC. Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. World Psychiatry. 2002;1(1):16-20.

  7. Hirschfeld RM. The Comorbidity of Major Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Recognition and Management in Primary Care. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2001;3(6):244-254. doi:10.4088/pcc.v03n0609

  8. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2020). Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/substance-abuse