Are we losing the war against depression?

    • Depression is on the rise in the United States. From 2005 to 2015, depression rose significantly among Americans age 12 and older with the most rapid increases seen in young people. This is the first study to identify trends in depression by gender, income, and education over the past decade.

      • An estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.
      • The prevalence of major depressive episode was higher among adult females (8.5%) compared to males (4.8%).

The suicide of Kate Spade, who suffered from depression, is a warning that we need to do more to treat this horrible mental illness.  In 2016, an estimated 10.3 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. This number represented 4.3% of all U.S. adults.

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

  • During 2013–2016, 8.1% of American adults aged 20 and over had depression in a given 2-week period.
  • Women (10.4%) were almost twice as likely as were men (5.5%) to have had depression.
  • Depression was lower among non-Hispanic Asian adults, compared with Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, or non-Hispanic white adults.
  • The prevalence of depression decreased as family income levels increased.
  • About 80% of adults with depression reported at least some difficulty with work, home, and social activities because of their depression.
  • From 2007–2008 to 2015–2016, the percentage of American adults with depression did not change significantly over time.

A report from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that from 2011 through 2014, the most recent data available, close to 13% of people 12 and older said they took an antidepressant in the last month . That number is up from 11% in 2005-2008.  The most recent numbers have increased by nearly 65% since 1999-2002, when 7.7% of Americans reported taking an antidepressant.

Clinical depression affects about 16 million people in the U.S. and is estimated to cost the U.S. about $210 billion a year in productivity loss and health care needs. Global revenue for antidepressants is projected to grow to nearly $17 billion by 2020.

The Affordable Care Act required mental health coverage to be comparable to physical health coverage. It also prevented insurance companies from determining insurance premiums based on a person’s health status through its “individual mandate,” which required everyone to purchase health insurance. Pre-Obamacare, mental disorders including anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia had been used to deny people coverage. Under the Trump Administration’s proposed budget, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would face a reduction of $688 million cut for 2019.

Depression that goes untreated is the strongest risk factor for suicide behavior and recent studies show that suicide attempts have increased in recent years, especialy among young women.”

The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that about 43.4 million adults (17.9%) in the United States had any mental illness in the past year (including mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders, but excluding developmental and substance use disorders). Mental illness was more prevalent among women (21.2%) than men (14.3%), and occurred among more than a fifth of adults ages 18 to 25, as well over a fifth of adults ages 26 to 49.

Can we, as a nation, really afford to overlook this problem with potential cuts to health care?

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