The Facts And Fictions Of Depression Statistics

By: Sarah Fader

Updated February 15, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

Every year, roughly 14.8 million Americans (6.7% of the population) experience depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. Among those who experience severe depressive symptoms, nearly 90% report some or serious difficulty with work, home, or social activities. These and other depression stats are important to know and can help tell if you or others are likely to be depressed and if you or a loved one should seek help. We will present common myths and truths about depression, rates of depression across the US and the world, suicide information, and teen depression statistics to help dispel some myths about teenage depression.

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Myths About Depression

There are many misconceptions about depression. Here are some common myths about depression and the actual truths behind them.

MYTH: Hard work beats depression

TRUTH: Although some people think keeping oneself busy will solve depression, often times the problem is deeper. In fact, one sign of depression in men is if they are overworking themselves.

MYTH: It is not a real illness

TRUTH: Unfortunately, in many countries, mental illness is rarely talked about and is often stigmatized. Depression is a real illness and is considered one of the most debilitating mental illnesses.

MYTH: Medication is the only way to cure depression

TRUTH: Despite what advertisements tell you on tv, taking medication by itself is often not the best solution to helping someone ease depression symptoms. Speaking with a mental health professional is one of the best ways to figure out the best treatment options for you

MYTH: Talking makes things worse

TRUTH: Talking (especially with a trained health professional) is one of the best ways to ease symptoms. Many people, especially men, have been told to conceal their feelings and not 'burden' others with their emotions. Fortunately, this bad advice is being dispelled, and more people are becoming comfortable speaking with others.

MYTH: Depression is tough to treat

TRUTH: Although treating depression requires persistence, roughly 70% of people who stick with treatments benefit from a serious alleviation of symptoms.

Types of Depression

Although depression is typically talked about as one type of disorder, there are actually many types of depression. We present a statistic of depression for each specific type of depression listed below:

  • Post-partum depression: Women who have recently given birth may feel depressed for months after delivery. One study finds that this can affect 1 in 7 mothers.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Changes in seasons, particularly a lack of sunlight, can cause some people to experience depressive symptoms. Roughly 10 million Americans experience SAD, particularly in northern states.
  • Dysthymia: Individuals with dysthymia experience minor but chronic depressive symptoms. It is estimated that this affects 1.5% of American adults.
  • Bipolar disorder: Characterized by major depressive states and manic states. Roughly 2.6% of Americans have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder

The Most Depressed States

Depression does not care where you live; however, some states do show higher rates of depression over others. This may have to do with the amount of sunshine people in these states receive, the rate of poverty in these states (more on this later), the unemployment rate, and the obesity rate of these states. Below are the 10 most depressing states, according to a survey conducted by the CDC in 2010:

Illinois: 10%

Michigan and Delaware: 10.2%

Arizona: 10.3%

Louisiana: 10.8%

Tennessee: 11%

Oklahoma: 11.3%

Arkansas: 11.9%

Alabama: 13%

West Virginia: 14.3%

Mississippi: 14.8%

It is likely that Mississippi and West Virginia top the list because they have some of the lowest rates of unemployment and highest rates of poverty. If you are a resident of one of these states, you may very well know someone with depression (or have depression yourself). It is important to speak to a mental health professional, either online or in person.

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The Most Depressed Countries

Depression stats show that certain countries have higher rates of depression than others. In one study, researchers found that the highest rates of depression among European countries were found in Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria (7.6%), Russia (7.6%), Ukraine (8.1%), and Hungary (8.2%). These high rates of depression were partly related to someone's relationship status, whether or not they had children, and what their economic status was. Unfortunately, in addition to high rates of depression, many of these countries lack mental health resources, including psychiatrists and social workers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) collects mental health data around the world, including stats about depression. In their collection of statistics about depression, they found that rates of depression were highest in India, China, the U.S., and Indonesia.

Depression is Associated with Poverty

Today in the USA, roughly 43.1 million Americans live in poverty. Just like depression, poverty affects people from all walks of life. It creates undue stress when people struggle to pay bills and put food on the table. It has been found that "more than 15% of persons living below the federal poverty level have depression", almost 2.5 times more people who live at or above the poverty line who have depression.

More Women Experience Depression (But Men Experience it Too!)

It is NOT true that being depressed is just part of "being a woman," just as it is NOT true that a man with depression should "man up and get over it." Statistics on depression show that men and women, across all age groups, experience depression.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found across all age groups, 9.5% of women in the US are currently experiencing symptoms of depression compared to 5.6% of men.

Both men and women are more likely to experience depression between the ages of 40 and 59 compared to any other age: 12.3% of women aged 40-59, and 7.2% of men.

There Are Myths Out There About Depression. What's Fact And What's Fiction?
Work With An Online Therapist Who Knows Depression Well

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There are many reasons why people between 40 and 59 experience depression more often than others. For women, the onset of menopause causes major shifts in hormone balance, not only affecting the body but the brain as well. For men and women, major changes in routine may be occurring when children 'leave the nest' and also when some people begin retirement. In fact, one study found that retirement has been shown to increase the chance of experiencing depression by 40%. But there is good news on the other side of the darkness. In their collection of statistics of depression, the CDC also found that the age group with the lowest rates of depression is men and women who are comfortably settled into retirement (aged 60 and over).

Depression in Teenagers Statistics

Anyone who has been a teenager knows that being a teen can be tough. Both teen boys and girls (but especially girls) struggle with self-esteem, which can include a lack of confidence in how you look or how you are fitting in with others. Unfortunately, many parents believe that a change in mood is just typical "teenager-ness," and fail to help their teen. Your teen may be embarrassed about the way they feel and may want you to come to them rather than seeking help themselves. Although mood changes are normal during the teen years, prolonged signs of depression are indicators that your teen needs your help.

Here are some teenage depression statistics that you may or may not have known:

  • In the U.S., 12.5% of teens aged 12-17 experience symptoms of depression
  • About 5% of 12 year olds report experiencing a major depressive episode, while 15-16% of 15-17 year olds experience depression
  • Nearly 20% of depressed teens are girls, and 6% are boys
  • Every year, nearly 5,000 teens commit suicide
  • 24% of teens consume alcohol every month. It is not clear if this is due to feeling depressed, or if consuming alcohol raises the chances the teen will experience depression

Depression and Suicide

Because 2/3 of people who commit suicide are depressed at the time of their suicide, it is important to be aware of some depression and suicide statistics. Suicide attempts are often a very serious sign that the person is depressed or needs help. Every year, nearly 43,000 Americans commit suicide, with 1 in 25 suicide attempts resulting in a completed suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children and teens aged 10-18, and adults aged 19-34. Although women are more prone to having suicidal thoughts, men make up 79% of those who commit suicide.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) right away, and consider speaking with a health professional.

Number of People Seeking Treatment

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Although it is clear that many people experience daily hardships from depression, less than half of depressed individuals (about 3% of Americans, according to one statistic about depression) seek treatment. The good news is that treatment options are becoming easier and are better at helping treat depression and ease symptoms. The number of people seeking treatment rose from 1/3 of individuals with depression to 1/2 from 1987 to today. Because many people with depression find it hard to get out of bed, the idea of seeking help through the Internet has helped millions of depressed Americans get the help they need by speaking with health professionals through websites such as BetterHelp.com.

What age group has the highest rate of depression?: Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that the age group with the highest rate of depression is young adults. Those aged between 18-29 were more likely to experience depression, and women are more likely to experience symptoms of depression than men across all severity levels, ranging from mild to severe.

How many people in the world suffer from depression?: Around the world, in a population of 7.67 billion, there are roughly 264 million people affected by depression. This is different from typical emotional responses to challenging events in a person’s life. This is a long-lasting, serious health condition that can affect a person’s daily regimen. They may find it difficult to engage with normal social situations, function poorly at work or school, or take care of their hygiene. If left untreated for too long, depression may lead to suicide. Roughly 800,000 people commit suicide every year and is the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 to 29.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

What percentage of students have symptoms of depression?: Due to the age range of 18- to 29-year-olds having the highest rate of depression, that group also includes students. The rate of suicides in teenagers has increased over the years. As much as 20 percent of teenagers experience depression before they reach the adulthood. Some teenagers are more at risk of developing depression and having suicidal thoughts, including those who have been abused or neglected, those who suffer from chronic physical conditions or illnesses, teens who have a family history of depression, and those who have experienced trauma or disruptions in their family life, such as the death or divorce of parents. Additionally, female teens are more likely to experience depression than male teens.

Thankfully, 70% of depressed teens are receiving treatment for their depression, whether it’s through cognitive behavioral therapy or prescribed medication. Please contact an online counselor at BetterHelp if you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts.

What is the most common mental disorder?: Of the mental disorders that exist, anxiety disorders are the most common. In America alone, there are approximately 40 million adults to live with these disorders, aged 18 and over. Of the anxiety disorder family, the most common is generalized anxiety disorder. Also known as GAD, it is characterized by persistent and excessive worry and can be triggered by various situations or by nothing at all. This worry can be difficult to control, making it difficult for the person living with the condition to function in their everyday life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, however, 43% of those living with GAD seek out and receive treatment.

Which race has the highest rate of depression?: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, people of colour were more likely to experience depression than white people. The highest rates were discovered in Hispanics, with 10.8% of Hispanic Americans experiencing major depression. They were 44% more likely to experience a depressive disorder than Whites.

The study took into account factors that could be responsible for these high rates, such as Hispanics having fewer opportunities to be employed, having less access to health insurance coverage, and had disproportionately more physical and functional limitations than Whites.

Who is at greatest risk for depression?: Although depression can occur at any age, those who are at the greatest risk of depression are women in their teenaged years and early 20s. Factors that can contribute to the risk of depression include a lack of self-esteem, traumatic events in a person’s life, a family history of depression or bipolar disorder, abuse of alcohol and/or recreational drugs, chronic pain or illnesses, and living in an unsupportive situation where the person living with depression is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, or any variations in the development of genital organs that are not clearly male or female.

What are the 4 types of depression?: It’s a mistake to consider depression as one mental disorder, since there are different kinds and they should be treated differently from one another despite having similar symptoms. There are four main kinds of depression: persistent depressive disorder (PDD), major depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and bipolar disorder.

PDD is a kind of depression that consists of symptoms of low mood that persists for about two years. The symptoms do not become intense at any point to become major depression, making it easy for a person living with PDD to go about their normal daily lives without anyone knowing that they don’t experience joy most of the time.

Major depression is what most people consider to be the overarching version of depression. There is a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, trouble with sleeping and eating regularly, low energy, and difficulty concentrating. Loss of interest can lead to deep feelings of sadness that persist for an extended period of time, affecting self-worth and leading to thoughts of death or suicide.

SAD is a kind of depression that changes with the seasons for those who live in the northern or southern hemispheres. This is because there is decreased sunlight during the winter months, which affect the circadian rhythms of the body, leading a person with SAD to feel tired and moody more often to the point of interfering with their daily lives.

Bipolar disorder, once called manic depression, is punctuated by while swings in mood between highs and lows. The manic state displays symptoms of high energy, decreased need for sleep, and taking higher risks; the depressive state displays the typical symptoms of depression, such as lower energy levels, reduced self-esteem, and an increased need for sleep.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

What is the mortality rate of depression?: Depression has been shown to present a mortality burden at both the population and individual level. Those who lived with depression died roughly eight years earlier than other individuals. People with major depression were also less likely to be older than those who did not experience depression.

Other contributing factors that decreased mortality for persons with depression included being more likely to smoke, more likely to be obese, having lower education and household income, and having more chronic diseases.

What country has the worst mental health?: When it comes to the quality years of life lost caused by depression or anxiety, the country with the worst mental health is China, with India coming second and the United States coming third. One in five adults within the U.S. will experience mental illness every year, but the silver lining of that dark cloud is that 59% of them will seek treatment for their conditions.

Why school is a waste of time?: Although school may seem like a waste of time because of how stressful it can be, studies have shown that those who have lower education or do not finish school are more prone to developing depression later on in life. School may be challenging, but graduating can open up your prospects to finding suitable employment that is not only rewarding, but will also provide you with access to exceptional healthcare.

If you are experiencing extreme emotions that make it difficult to attend school on a regular basis, then contact any of the BetterHelp counselors or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Is school the main cause of depression?: According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health in 2016, depression in schools has been rising, with 12- to 17-year-olds having at least one major depressive episode during the year of 2016. That amounts to 12.8% of the population in that age group.

Issues in school can contribute to this rise in depression, as teenagers are faced with troubles with relationships, pressure from their peers, bullying, lacking the ability to cope with challenges, and suffering from nature deficit disorder (having no time to go outside). However, a larger contributing factor to depression in teenagers is social media; they consume about nine hours of media a day due to smartphones, and they become depressed when they compare their lives to the people they follow on social media.

But there is help for those who want it; all it takes is that first step of asking for help if you fear you may be suffering from depression.

Can school stress cause mental illness?: Stress at college can be a normal occurrence: a young adult is on their own, trying to figure out where they fit in the world and trying to be successful in their classes at the same time. However, this stress can become overwhelming to the point that it evolves into a mental illness. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems on college campuses. 85% of college students admit that they feel overwhelmed by all of the work they have to do, and 30% admit that stress has had a negative effect on their academic performance.

Thankfully, through cognitive behavioral therapy, college students can learn to turn this into a positive stress as motivation to learn and improve throughout their college career. Finding the right social support amongst their peers can also help to improve both physical and mental health.

What is the rarest mental illness?: One of the rarest mental illnesses in the world is called Stendhal Syndrome. This is an emotional anxiety disorder that is pronounced by panic attacks, hallucinations, and confusion when a person living with the disorder is exposed to art. This can be a piece of art that the person considers to be particularly beautiful or when they are exposed to large quantities of art, such as in an art museum or gallery. This disorder can also extend to moments of beauty in nature.

At what age does anxiety peak?: In a survey that was conducted on 18- to 60-year-olds between 2001 and 2003, adults aged 30 to 44 had the highest rate of anxiety, with at least 23% of the people in this age group admitting that they had an anxiety disorder within the past year.

Signs of anxiety in adults can include panic attacks, social anxiety, or generalized anxiety disorder. Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as medications, have been shown to help people living with anxiety to cope with their symptoms and even reduce them.

What is poor mental health?: Poor mental health is the definition of one’s mental health is not what they want it to be. Being unable to manage one’s thoughts and feelings when it comes to stress is a sign of poor mental health. Continuous episodes of these symptoms could be a sign of a mental disorder.

What’s important to remember is that poor mental health is more common than you think, and that there is help out there available to you. No one is immune from poor mental health, but there are certain groups of people who are more vulnerable to it, whether it’s because of exposure to certain social situations or because there is a family history of poor mental health. Regardless of the source, seeking help is the first step to getting better and conquering the struggles of poor mental health.


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