Depression in the US Climbs to One In Ten People

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Major depression is a common and treatable mental disorder so in today’s modern world, some people might find it surprising that 1 in 10 people in the US suffers from depression. This includes 3.4% who have major depression. Data was gathered by analysts who looked at data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys conducted in 2006 and 2008 among 235,067 adults in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Current depression was determined based on responses to the Patient Health Questionnaire 8 (PHQ-8) (4), which covers eight of the nine criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) for diagnosis of major depressive disorders. The ninth criterion in the DSM-IV assesses suicidal or self-injurious ideation and was omitted because interviewers would not able to provide adequate intervention by telephone.

"This is concerning from the perspective that depression is a very common and treatable mental disorder," said report co-author Lela McKnight-Eily, a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist at the CDC. "When we see a high prevalence of depression there is definitely a concern, particularly when we see it concentrated in certain groups or concentrated in certain areas of the country," she added.

Rates of depression did vary considerably from state-to-statewith the lowest rate was found in North Dakota (4.8%) while the highest rate was found in Mississippi (14.8%). The Southeast was the most depressed region.

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Participants were classified as having major depression if, on more than half of the days during the preceding two weeks, they met five of the eight DSM-IV criteria, plus felt "little interest or pleasure in doing things," or "feeling down, depressed, or hopeless."

Depressive disorders are more common among persons with chronic conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and cancer as well as ppeople with unhealthy behaviors smoking, physical inactivity, and drinking.

Women were significantly more likely than men to "report" major depression as were persons without health insurance coverage. Ethnic minorities, those without a high school education, people who were divorced or never married, those unemployed or unable to work, middle-aged people, and those without health insurancereported being depressed.

"Depression is definitely undertreated," McKnight-Eily said. "Research has indicated that more people are seeking out treatment, but issues in terms of access to care, health insurance coverage -- particularly mental health coverage -- is an issue. Stigma is another barrier to treatment and care, and so is the availability of mental health providers."

The stigma attached to seeking help for depression keeps many from getting treatment, she noted. "People think they're weak or they have a notion that they should be able to handle it," she said. In the meantime, depression in the US continues to climb.

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