Depression Diagnoses Rising In U.S.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) released new data on the rates of depression diagnoses in their latest report, “Major Depression: The Impact on Overall Health”. According to the report, diagnoses of clinical depression, also known as major depression, have risen by 33 percent in the United States since 2013. Depression diagnoses were found to be rising in every demographic.

Women were diagnosed with major depression at nearly two times the rate of men, at 6 percent and 3 percent respectively. Certain parts of the country tended to have more depression cases than others. Rhode Island had the highest rate of depression at 6.4 percent, followed by Maine, Minnesota and Utah with all at around 6 percent. Hawaii had the lowest rate at 2.1 percent.

Based on age groups, diagnoses among millennials and adolescents showed the sharpest spike. The report showed that 2.6 percent of youths aged 12 to17 were diagnosed with major depression in 2016, a 63 percent increase from 1.6 percent in 2013. Among young adults aged 18 to 34, 4.4 percent had major depression in 2016, a 47 percent increase compared to 2013.

The highest percentage of major depression diagnoses were among people aged 35 to 49. The report showed that 5.8 percent of 35-to 49-year-olds had major depression in 2016, compared to 4.6 percent three years before. The new study also noted those diagnosed with major depression were nearly 30 percent less healthy on average than those not diagnosed with major depression.

The report was based on insurance claims filed by 41 million privately insured Blue Cross Blue Shield members. The company believes that the rates may be even higher among the general population. Even though most people in the U.S. are covered by a commercial health plan, previous studies have shown that many people who report symptoms of depression have not been diagnosed or sought treatment for it.

Depression is a mental health disorder that is characterized by nearly constant feelings of sadness, apathy, or anger. Depression may or may not be triggered by a specific event, but will affect daily behavior and general health for an extended period. Depression can cause a loss of interest in activities, body changes, appetite problems, low energy, and insomnia. Further education and research are needed to identify the most effective methods to treat major depression.