Depression Statistics Everyone Should Know

Depression affects people from all walks of life.

 JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

In This Article

Depression affects people from all walks of life, no matter what their background. It can affect people of all ages as well.

Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma that surrounds mental health issues, and some people view disorders such as depression as a weakness. But, similar to the way anyone can develop certain physical health issues, mental health issues aren’t always preventable.

Understanding the latest depression statistics could increase awareness about mental health. Recognizing how widespread it is could also help reduce the stigma—which might encourage more people to seek treatment.

Major Depressive Episodes

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) defines a major depressive episode as at least two weeks of a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities, as well as at least five other symptoms, such as:

  • Sleep issues on an almost daily basis (either difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much)
  • Changes in appetite and weight (change of more than 5% body weight in a month) or a decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
  • Decreased energy or fatigue almost every day
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and thinking clearly
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation that is observable by others (slow physical movements or unintentional or purposeless motions)
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for suicide

The symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in a person’s social, occupational, or educational functioning.

There’s no single cause of depression, according to research. It can be the result of brain chemistry, hormones, and genetics, as well as life experiences and physical health.

Demographics

Depression can begin at any age and it can affect people of all races and across all socioeconomic statuses. Here are some of the statistics on the demographics of people with depression:

  • The median age of depression onset is 32.5 years old.
  • The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode is highest among individuals between 18 and 25.
  • 11.3% of adults who report two or more races have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year
  • 8.7% of women have depression
  • 5.3% of men have depression

A survey conducted by the CDC found that the prevalence of depression decreases among adults as family income levels increase. While they don't speculate as to the cause, it may be that increased income results in less money-related stress and improved access to mental health services. 

The survey also revealed that prevalence rates among men and women have been fairly consistent over the last decade.

Research has shown that women experience depression at roughly twice the same rate as men. While the exact causes of this gender disparity are unclear, this increased prevalence in women is often linked to factors such as hormones, life circumstances, and stress.

Prevalence of Depression

While anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., depression isn’t far behind. The most recent depression statistics are:

  • As of 2017, 300 million people around the world have depression, according to the World Health Organization
  • According to data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 17.3 million adults in the United States—equaling 7.1% of all adults in the country—have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year
  • 11 million U.S. adults experienced an episode that resulted in severe impairment in the past year
  • Nearly 50% of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder

It’s estimated that 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.

Seasonal Depression

Depressive disorder with seasonal pattern (formerly known as seasonal affective disorder) is a pattern of depressive episodes that occur in line with seasonal changes. Most commonly, it is diagnosed in winter in people who live in colder climates. Summer-type seasonal pattern is less often diagnosed.

Here are the latest statistics on depressive disorders with seasonal patterns:

  • Approximately 5% of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression in any given year.
  • Four out of five people with seasonal depression are women.
  • The average age of onset is between 20 and 30 years old

Postpartum Depression

It’s common for women to experience stress, sadness, loneliness, and exhaustion after giving birth. But some women experience postpartum depression that makes it difficult for them to care for themselves or their babies after giving birth. Here are the statistics on postpartum depression:

  • One in seven women experiences postpartum depression.
  • Half of all women diagnosed with postpartum depression have never had an episode of depression before.
  • About half of all women who are eventually diagnosed with postpartum depression began experiencing symptoms during pregnancy.

Suicide and Self-Harm

Untreated depression increases an individual’s risk of suicide. Here are the latest statistics on suicide:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • It’s the 2nd leading cause of death among people ages 10-34.
  • Over 47,000 Americans die by suicide each year
  • 40% of all persons who complete suicide have made at least one previous attempt.
  • Individuals with substance abuse disorders are six times more likely to complete suicide than people who don’t have drug or alcohol problems.
  • Eight out of 10 people considering suicide give some signs of their intentions.
  • Females attempt suicide more than twice as often as males.
  • Males are four times as likely to die by suicide.
  • Firearms account for 51% of all suicide deaths
  • 492,037 individuals visited hospitals in the United States due to self-harm in 2017

Depression in Children and Adolescents

Depression can begin during childhood or during the teenage years. Similar to the prevalence rates in adults, girls are more likely to experience depression than boys. There’s a sharp increase in depression in girls just after puberty.

Although there has been a rise in teenage depression, according to a 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics study, there has not been a corresponding increase in treatment for teenagers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends regular depression screening for all adolescents 12 and over, given that the symptoms of depression are often missed by adults such as parents, teachers and even doctors.

Here are the most recent depression statistics in children and adolescents:

  • 3.1 million young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year in the United States
  • 2 to 3% of children ages 6 to 12 may have serious depression
  • 20% of adolescent girls have experienced a major depressive episode
  • 6.8% of adolescent boys have experienced a major depressive episode
  • 71% of adolescents who experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, experienced a severe impairment
  • 60% of children and adolescents with depression are not getting any type of treatment
  • 19% of children with depression saw a health care professional for treatment
  • 2% of children with depression were treated with medication alone

Economic Impact

Depression takes an economic toll on individuals, families, organizations, and society as a whole. It can lead to reduced educational attainment, lower earning potential, and higher rates of unemployment:

  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • The total economic burden of depression is estimated to be $210.5 billion per year.
  • 48 to 50% of the economic costs are attributed to absences from work as well as decreased productivity caused by depression
  • 45 to 47% of the costs are due to medical expenses, such as outpatient and inpatient treatment or the costs of medication

Treatment Effectiveness

Depression is very treatable. But, only about half of all Americans who are diagnosed with depression in a given year get treatment. Those who do seek treatment wait months or years to get help.

Many individuals with depression who seek treatment are under-treated. Studies consistently show a combination of talk therapy and medication can be most effective in treating depression.

Here are the latest statistics on depression treatment:

  • Only 1 in 5 people receive treatment consistent with current practice guidelines.
  • 6% of people with depression are treated with medication only.
  • 35% of adults with depression receive no treatment at all.

Resources

If you have symptoms of depression, there are resources available that can help:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a number of programs that can help, including their NAMI Family-to-Family class and NAMI connection, a support group for people with mental health conditions.
  • If you are experiencing depression and need someone to talk to, there are hotlines available that can offer confidential support 24 hours a day. You can call the Samaritans 24 Hour Crisis Hotline at 212-673-3000 or the United Way Helpline at 1-800-233-4357.

If you are in an emergency situation, call 911 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

A Word From Verywell

If you suspect you have depression, talk to your healthcare provider. A physician can assess your symptoms and can provide you with a referral to a specialist if necessary. You can also contact a mental health professional directly to discuss treatment options.

If you suspect someone you know has depression, address your concerns. The individual may be willing to seek treatment if you bring up the subject. And treatment could save someone’s life.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

  2. Dragisic T, Dickov A, Dickov V, Mijatovic V. Drug Addiction as Risk for Suicide Attempts. Mater Sociomed. 2015;27(3):188-91. doi:10.5455/msm.2015.27.188-191

  3. Mojtabai R, Olfson M, Han B. National Trends in the Prevalence and Treatment of Depression in Adolescents and Young Adults. Pediatrics. 2016;138(6). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1878

  4. Greenberg PE, Fournier AA, Sisitsky T, Pike CT, Kessler RC. The economic burden of adults with major depressive disorder in the United States (2005 and 2010). J Clin Psychiatry. 2015;76(2):155-62. doi:10.4088/JCP.14m09298

Additional Reading