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Depression Rates Surge By 33 Percent Since 2013, Study Finds

May 11, 2018 08:19 AM EDT
Depression Rises In U.S.
Major depression is becoming more and more common in the United States where nine million people are already diagnosed for it. Even worse news: it's the young who are suffering the most from the condition.
(Photo : Behrouz Mehri | AFP/Getty Images)

Major depression is on the rise in the United States across all age and gender groups, but especially among teenagers and millennials.

The study from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association's Health of America Report uses data from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Health Index.

The Findings Of The Study

Accordininsured Americans. It's behind only to hypertension. The diagnosis rate for major depression is 4.4 percent with 9 million commercially insured Americans already diagnosed with the condition.

From 2013 to 2016, the diagnosis rates shot up by 33 percent. Women are more frequently diagnosed than men at 6 percent and almost 3 percent, respectively.

There is also a discrepancy among the different states with Rhode Island having the highest rate of depression at 6.4 percent and Hawaii having the lowest at 2.1 percent.

The study also found a correlation between depression and overall health with those diagnosed with depression nearly 30 percent less healthy on average than those who are not. This is likely because 85 percent people diagnosed with depression also suffer from other serious chronic health conditions.

It's important to note that the information is the only representative of people with commercial health insurance. However, NBC News notes that most of the people in the United States are actually covered with a commercial health plan.

Younger Generations Hit Worse By Major Depression

Perhaps most alarming is the generations most afflicted by the disorder are the younger ones: teenagers and millennials.

The diagnosis rate for major depression is rising even more rapidly among the young. The rate rose 47 percent in millennials from 2013 to 2016. Among adolescents, it increased 47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls.

It's in line with a recent study on loneliness by Cigna, which notes Generation X and millennials are lonelier and consider themselves in worse health than their older counterparts.

"Major depression diagnoses are growing quickly, especially for adolescents and millennials," Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSA, says in a statement.

"The high rates for adolescents and millennials could have a substantial health impact for decades to come. Further education and research are needed to identify methods for both physicians and patients to effectively treat major depression and begin a path to recovery and better overall health."

Dr. Karyn Horowitz, a psychiatrist affiliated with Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island, suggests that the rising rate of depression in the younger generations is due to the rise in electronic use and disrupted sleep in individuals already vulnerable to the condition.

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