One of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. is depression affecting more than 16 million Americans. Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability for people between the ages of 15 to 44 and it affects about 6.7% of all adults. People across a wide range of different demographics can be affected by depression.
Depression is a problem that can be debilitating and make it difficult for people to function in their daily lives. They might have trouble performing at work, school or handling their relationships with others. People with a depressive disorder will find it hard to prevent their symptoms from interfering with important things in their life.
People typically experience depression in adulthood but it can actually start early in life with many people developing their symptoms in adolescence. If the person doesn’t receive any treatment, the problem can become worse and cause multiple mental and physical issues. Major depressive episodes can occur periodically throughout a person’s life.
Who Does Depression Affect?
Depression can affect different age groups, races and other types of demographics in varying levels. Women tend to be affected by depression more often than men even within different age groups and with other factors. The prevalence of a person having a major depressive episode tends to occur in 8.5% of women compared to 4.8% of men.
In fact middle aged women actually have the highest rates of depression with the disorder being most prevalent among women age 40 to 59 years old. The lowest rates of depression are seen among teenage boys age 12 to 17 and men over the age of 60. It is believed that hormone changes, genetic factors and personal circumstances can all contribute to the reason why women tend to experience depression more often than men.
Even though gender plays a major role in depression demographics, there are other factors that can influence whether someone is more likely to experience depression. Reports have shown that people living below the poverty level are actually two and a half times more likely to suffer from depression. This factor could have to do with environmental causes of mental health problems making a person living in poverty more vulnerable to a depressive episode.
Certain races and ethnic groups can also experience a higher prevalence of depression than others. People that are biracial or have two or more races tend to report the highest rates of depression. There are also very high rates of depression among people of Native American descent.
Depression and Treatment
Looking at depression statistics, those that have a higher prevalence of experiencing a depressive episode also tend to have severe impairment. In 2016 an estimated 10.3 million US adults had at least one major depressive disorder with severe impairment representing 4.3% of American adults. Of the adults who had a depressive episode in that year, 64% had an episode with severe impairment.
The rates of people who receive treatment for their depression is lower than ideal. About 37% of adults that have had a major depression episode did not seek any kind of treatment. Only about 44 percent received combined treatment of help from a professional as well as medication. ABout 13 percent received treatment from a health professional only and 6 percent received medication only.
With low rates of treatment even among demographics with a very high prevalence of depression, the mental illness is a major problem in the U.S. It is important for people in demographics who are more vulnerable to be aware of the symptoms of depression and the need for getting professional help. Although depression may seem like a natural human emotion, someone who experiences it on a regular basis needs to talk to a therapist to improve their condition.
The stigma behind depression can sometimes make people feel ashamed or afraid to seek help. Going to a treatment center can mean admitting to yourself and others that you have a mental illness and that can be a difficult thing to do. However, treatment is crucial to prevent depression from interfering with day to day aspects of a person’s life and their ability to work and function in relationships.
Although certain demographics may experience depression more often than others, it is possible for someone from any age, gender, economic status or ethnic background to recover from the illness. Getting professional help can increase the quality of life of an individual that is suffering from depression. Talking to a therapist, receiving medication and working on reducing symptoms can all minimize the negative experiences of having depression.
If the U.S. is able to reduce the stigma of depression and get more people in treatment we may be able to see the numbers in these demographics decrease over time.