The Number Of Americans Living With Depression May Surprise You

Although anyone of any age can experience depression, BrainsWay reports that, on average, major depressive disorder sets in between the ages of 35 and 40. Yet research shows rates of depression appear to be increasing amongst alternate age groups, reports HealthDay.

Pulling five years worth of health data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, research from a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that in 2020, 1 in 10 Americans ages 12 and older had experienced depression within the last year. Prevalence rates for depression were greatest amongst young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, standing at just over 17%. Second to this age group were youth ages 12 through 17 with a depression prevalence rate of 16.9%. No change in rates of depression was found amongst those 35 and older.

From 2015 to 2020, increases in depression rates were observed across sex, race, ethnicity, income level, and educational background, as per the study. However, adolescents and young adults exhibited the starkest increase in depression rates during this time frame. BrainsWay points out that symptoms of depression can manifest differently amongst age groups. For adolescents, this can take the form of chronic irritability, anger, as well as difficulties with school, chores, or socialization. For young adults, bouts of depression may last longer and occur more frequently.

Rates of reaching out for mental health support remain low

The study also observed increases in rates of depression amongst younger kids beginning as early as age 12. In an article published via the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), Dr. Richa Bhatia writes, "Many well-intentioned adults still believe that children can't get depressed." Yet in 2020, Mental Health America (MHA) shows that roughly 50% of youth ages 11 through 17 experienced thoughts of suicide or self-harm over the last 14 days.

Offering a possible explanation for their findings, researchers on the new study attribute increases in mental health reporting as one potential contributing factor to their research outcomes, reports HealthDay. However, the study team also found that across the board, numbers of patients who sought mental health support remained low. Dr. Christine Crawford, associate medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness who was not associated with the study, told HealthDay that normalizing discussion around mental health can help encourage more people to reach out for help. "Medical providers who are screening for depression signals to patients that talking about depression, talking about your mental health is important for overall health," Dr. Crawford told the publication.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.