One In 13 Adults Experienced Depressive Episode In Past Year

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

An estimated 16.5 million people aged 18 years or older experienced at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year and 64.5 percent of them received treatment, according to a new report released today by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“Depression is a medical condition that should be treated with the same urgency as any other medical condition,” said SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H. “This study helps us gain better insight into how many people suffer from major depressive episodes, where they seek treatment, and why they don’t. This information is critical to help inform health system reform.”

Among the findings:

* The rate of past year MDE was lower among persons aged 50 or older (5.8 percent) than among those aged 18 to 25 (8.9 percent) or 26 to 49 (8.5 percent). Overall the rate of past year MDE was 7.5 percent for adults aged 18 or older.


* The rate of MDE was higher for adults who perceived their overall health to be fair or poor (14.2 percent) than for those who described their health as excellent (4.3 percent).

* Among those with past year MDE who received treatment for depression in the past year, 68.8 percent saw or talked to a medical doctor or other health professional about depression and used prescription medication for depression.

* A quarter (24 percent) of those with MDE who received treatment for depression saw or talked to a medical doctor or other health professional but did not use a prescription medication.

According to the report one third of adults experiencing an MDE in the past year did not receive treatment during that period. The most frequently reported reasons for not receiving mental health services among these adults was not being able to afford the cost (43.2 percent), feeling they could handle the problem on their own (29.3 percent), not knowing where to go for services (18.1 percent), not having the time (16.7 percent), having health insurance that did not cover enough treatment (11.3 percent), and concerns about confidentiality (11.1 percent).

The report is drawn from SAMHSA’s 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) which collected data from a representative sample of approximately 45,000 civilian, non-institutionalized adults throughout the United States.

MDE is defined as a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, including problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.