The Facts And Fictions Of Depression Statistics

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated May 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

As depression can be a very common mental health disorder, it can be beneficial to understand the facts and fictions surrounding it. The facts generally state that depression can be one of the most common conditions worldwide and that it can be treatable. Meanwhile, fictions often involve the ideas that all depressed people are suicidal, that depression and anxiety are the same, that depression always looks identical, even in different people, and that depression only affects adults. If you’re living with symptoms of depression, you might consider reaching out for professional help via in-person or online therapy.

You don't have to live with depression symptoms

Putting facts before fiction

Before we get into the falsehoods regarding depression, let's focus on what we do know. Recent years have yielded a wealth of research into depression’s effects on the worldwide population. Even as this research has contributed to more effective treatments for depression, its findings may not be widely known. Here are some of the most important statistics you may wish to know about depression. 

Fact: Depression may be one of the most common conditions in the world

It’s estimated that almost 7% of adults are living with some degree of depression, falling somewhere on the scale from mild to severe. That can equal around 280 million people worldwide.

Fact: Depression can be treatable

Of all the possible ways to treat depression, there are generally two that stand out above the rest. Speaking to a therapist is often the most effective treatment. Therapy, alongside the appropriate use of prescribed medication, is often enough for people living with depression to manage their condition.

In the United States in 2019, nearly one in five adults sought mental health care at some point. When polled, nine out of ten people generally said that they would recommend seeking therapy to friends or loved ones who were experiencing difficulty with their mental health.
Getty/Xavier Lorenzo

Debunking the myths

Now, let's take a look at some of the myths surrounding depression. For the most part, these myths can be perpetuated by a lack of education about depression, rather than any kind of maliciousness. 

Fiction: All people with depression are suicidal

At its most extreme, depression can result in suicide*. It can be true that symptoms like suicidal ideation can occur in people living with depression. However, the majority of people with depression do not die by suicide.

Fiction: Depression and anxiety are part of the same condition

While there may be a correlation between the two conditions, they don’t always appear together, and anxiety and depression are generally not the same thing. Because of their close relationship, it can be common to see them referenced together. This may be in part because both conditions are commonly treated with medication and therapy. Still, it can be best not to conflate the two conditions.

Fiction: Depression always looks the same

Even though the term “depression” can be a convenient catch-all term for a type of mental health condition, it can be important to keep in mind that there can be many different kinds of diagnosable depression. Each type may manifest differently, varying in symptoms and intensity. Below are a few possible symptoms of depression, but please note that it is generally not necessary to experience every symptom in order to receive a depression diagnosis.

  • Unexplained feelings of guilt or despair
  • Increased irritability
  • A lack of interest in activities
  • Physical aches and pains
  • A loss of self-confidence
  • Self-isolation
  • Difficulty concentrating and sleep issues
  • Low energy

Even the list above can be far from exhaustive. There may be no singular experience of depression. Just as everyone tends to be unique, individual experiences of depression (and other mental health disorders) can also be unique.

Fiction: Depression only affects adults

Depression often occurs during the late teens or early twenties, but there can still be millions of children and adolescents who are diagnosed with depression. It can be crucial to ensure that young people with depression receive the professional treatment they deserve. 

Seeking therapy for depression

People with depression should generally seek therapy, either online or in person, for several reasons. First and foremost, therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment where individuals can explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a non-judgmental space. In addition, depression treatment can improve your mental health and overall well-being so that you can live the life you wish to live.

You don't have to live with depression symptoms

Benefits of online therapy

If you’re currently living with depression, it can be challenging to get out of bed and face the day. The thought of going through the process of finding a local therapist, scheduling an appointment, acquiring transportation and childcare, and attending therapy in person can seem overwhelming. Online therapy can offer a more flexible alternative, empowering you to get the professional insight and guidance you deserve from the comfort of your home.

Effectiveness of online therapy

Recent research has shown that if online therapy is your preference, it can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy while often being more affordable and convenient. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help and begin your journey toward improved mental health.


Facts about depression can include that it is generally considered to be one of the most common conditions in the world and that it’s often very treatable. However, fictions about depression can abound. Some of these myths may include the idea that depression is the same thing as anxiety, that depression looks the same in everyone, that all depressed people are suicidal, and that only adults are affected by depression. Please know that if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, you do not have to continue living this way. Treatment can begin with scheduling an in-person or online session with a licensed therapist.
Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
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