A new report from Gallup is shedding light on the alarmingly high prevalence of depression in America.
As CNN reported, Gallup digitally surveyed 5,167 U.S. adults about their mental health between February 21–28, 2023. Based on their responses, the polling group estimates that more than 1 in 6 Americans adults — in other words, about 18 percent — is depressed or receiving treatment for depression. That record-high number marks a jump of 7 percentage points since 2015, when Gallup published its first report on this topic.
Gallup’s new data indicate that depression rates are rising fastest for women and young adults. For the first time, lifetime clinical depression rates for Black and Hispanic Americans were also equal to or greater than rates among white people.
Across the board, 29 percent of U.S. adults — another record-breaking percentage — have been diagnosed with clinical depression at some point in their life.
This is just the latest report to put numbers to America’s ongoing mental health crisis.
Here’s why experts believe depression rates are so high right now.
The rates of depression among U.S. adult have been steadily climbing for years. However, experts believe that prolonged stress and isolation related to the COVID-19 pandemic caused them to skyrocket since 2020.
“The fact that Americans are more depressed and struggling after this time of incredible stress and isolation is perhaps not surprising,” Dr. Rebecca Brendel, president of the American Psychiatric Association, told CNN. “There are lingering effects on our health, especially our mental health, from the past three years that disrupted everything we knew.”
This is in line with other reports on the topic, including a 2022 brief from the World Health Organization that noted a substantial surge in rates of depression and anxiety globally.
But it’s a complex topic. It’s also true that, in recent years, more people have become aware of mental illnesses like depression — and perhaps more willing to talk about their symptoms or seek treatment. These positive cultural shifts could have inflated depression rates too.
“We’re making it easier to talk about mental health and looking at it as part of our overall wellness just like physical health,” Brendel added.
What is depression?
According to Mayo Clinic, clinical depression is a mental health condition that affects a person’s mood. Symptoms include feelings of profound sadness, loss of interest in normal or pleasurable activities, sleep disturbances, tiredness, and difficulty thinking.
Depression does not have a single cause and is often linked to a person’s genetics, trauma, and/or life circumstances. Some people with depression experience a single depressive episode, while others have reccuring episodes.
It’s important to underscore that depression isn’t the same as ordinary, situational sadness. This is a serious mental health condition that requires intervention.
Depression is treatable with mental health services like therapy or prescription medications. Unfortunately, this condition is still shrouded in stigma, which can deter people from seeking the care they need. That’s why more celebrities and public figures are speaking out about mental health awareness. Some have even opened up about their personal journeys in therapy.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of depression, consider this a sign to seek help. You aren’t alone, and there are ways to alleviate your suffering.
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