Depression Statistics

A major depressive episode can be devastating for the individual and the family touches. In addition to emotional suffering, you can not measure the consequences for society. To fully understand the magnitude of the problem of depression, let’s look at some of the statistics of depression.


Around 19 million American adults suffer from depressive disorders in any given year. These include major depression, bipolar disorder and dsythymia. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of the adult population suffers from depression in most industrialized societies. It is the leading cause of disability among people aged 15 to 44 in the United States and the leading cause of disability for people over age 5 worldwide.

Major depressive disorder can occur at any age, but the median age of onset is 32. New reports indicate that four percent of preschool children have been diagnosed with clinical depression, and the number of children with depression is growing at an alarming 23 percent each year. One area of concern: the current antidepressants have shown little efficacy in patients under 18 years.

Women are diagnosed with depression at roughly twice the rate of men. However, this may be due to the fact that men are less likely to seek treatment for depressive disorders. Only eight percent of depressed black men seek treatment. In general, it is believed that about 80 percent of cases depression undiagnosed and untreated. Depression is a recurrent disease: after each depressive episode, increases the risk of future episode.

Depression is a huge cost to the economy too. It is responsible for an important part of absenteeism from work. The costs to employers in absenteeism and lost productivity due to depressive disorders is estimated at over 51 billion per year. This figure does not include the costs of treatment and prescription drugs.

The effects of depression can be spread through families from generation to generation. Research has shown that children of depressed mothers score lower on math tests. Developmental delays in children aged two to four years old have also been linked to depressed mothers.

Unfortunately, society continues to attach a stigma to depression. Polls show that 54 percent of people consider depression to be a personal weakness. In one study, 41 percent of women said they were too embarrassed to seek help for their depression.

There is a natural reluctance to interfere in the private emotions of others. But to reach those who are suffering from depressive disorders, you may need to go beyond our comfort zone and encourage those who know and love to seek treatment. Whether depression is affecting us personally is certainly cause pain in our community.

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