Depression Statistics

Who Is Affected by Depression?

  • Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27)
  • While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32. (U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates by Demographic Characteristics, 2005)
  • Major depressive disorder is more prevalent in women than in men. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; Jun 18; 289(23): 3095-105)
  • As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression. (Center for Mental Health Services, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1996)
  • People with depression are four times as likely to develop a heart attack than those without a history of the illness. After a heart attack, they are at a significantly increased risk of death or second heart attack. (National Institute of Mental Health, 1998)

Depression often co-occurs with other illnesses and medical conditions.

  • Cancer: 25% of cancer patients experience depression. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2002)
  • Strokes: 10-27% of post-stroke patients experience depression. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2002)
  • Heart attacks: 1 in 3 heart attack survivors experience depression. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2002)
  • HIV: 1 in 3 HIV patients may experience depression. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2002)
  • Parkinson's Disease: 50% of Parkinson's disease patients may experience depression. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2002)
  • Eating disorders: 50-75% of eating disorder patients (anorexia and bulimia) experience depression. (National Institute of Mental Health, 1999)
  • Substance use: 27% of individuals with substance abuse disorders (both alcohol and other substances) experience depression. (National Institute of Mental Health, 1999)
  • Diabetes: 8.5-27% of persons with diabetes experience depression. (Rosen and Amador, 1996)

Depression and the Elderly

  • About six million people are affected by late life depression, but only 10% ever receive treatment. (Brown University Long Term Care Quarterly, 1997)
  • Fifteen to 20% of U.S. families are caring for an older relative. A survey of these adult caregivers found that 58% showed clinically significant depressive symptoms. (Family Caregiver Alliance, 1997)

Women and Depression

  • Women experience depression at twice the rate of men. This 2:1 ratio exists regardless of racial or ethnic background or economic status. The lifetime prevalence of major depression is 20-26% for women and 8-12% for men. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1996)
  • Postpartum mood changes can range from transient "blues" immediately following childbirth to an episode of major depression and even to severe, incapacitating, psychotic depression. Studies suggest that women who experience major depression after childbirth very often have had prior depressive episodes even though they may not have been diagnosed or treated. (National Institute of Mental Health, 1999)
  • Depression may increase a woman's risk for broken bones. The hip bone mineral density of women with a history of major depression was found to be 10-15% lower than normal for their age--so low that their risk of hip fracture increased by 40% over 10 years. (National Institute of Mental Health, 1999) 

Economic Impact of Depression

  • Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44. (World Health Organization, 2004)
  • Major depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide among persons five and older. (World Health Organization, "Global Burden of Disease," 1996)
  • Depression ranks among the top three workplace issues, following only family crisis and stress. (Employee Assistance Professionals Association Survey, 1996)
  • Depression’s annual toll on U.S. businesses amounts to about $70 billion in medical expenditures, lost productivity and other costs. Depression accounts for close to $12 billion in lost workdays each year. Additionally, more than $11 billion in other costs accrue from decreased productivity due to symptoms that sap energy, affect work habits, cause problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making. (The Wall Street Journal, 2001, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999)

Depression and Suicide

  • Depression is the cause of over two-thirds of the 30,000 reported suicides in the U.S. each year. (White House Conference on Mental Health, 1999)
  • For every two homicides committed in the United States, there are three suicides. The suicide rate for older adults is more than 50% higher than the rate for the nation as a whole. Up to two-thirds of older adult suicides are attributed to untreated or misdiagnosed depression. (American Society on Aging, 1998)
  • Untreated depression is the number one risk for suicide among youth. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds and the fourth leading cause of death in 10 to 14 year olds. Young males age 15 to 24 are at highest risk for suicide, with a ratio of males to females at 7:1. (American Association of Suicidology, 1996)
  • The death rate from suicide (11.3 per 100,000 population) remains higher than the death rate for chronic liver disease, Alzheimer’s, homicide, arteriosclerosis or hypertension. (Deaths: Final Data for 1998, Center for Disease Control)

Treatment for Depression

  • Up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups or a combination of these treatments. (National Institute of Health, 1998)
  • Despite its high treatment success rate, nearly two out of three people suffering with depression do not actively seek nor receive proper treatment. (DBSA, 1996)
  • An estimated 50% of unsuccessful treatment for depression is due to medical non-compliance. Patients stop taking their medication too soon due to unacceptable side effects, financial factors, fears of addiction and/or short-term improvement of symptoms, leading them to believe that continuing treatment is unnecessary. (DBSA, 1999)
  • Participation in a DBSA patient-to-patient support group improved treatment compliance by almost 86% and reduced in-patient hospitalization. Support group participants are 86% more willing to take medication and cope with side effects. (DBSA, 1999)