Depression is a serious medical illness with mood, cognitive, and physical symptoms. Depression is associated with higher rates of chronic disease, increased health care utilization, and impaired functioning. Rates of treatment remain low, and the treatment received is often inadequate.
A new NCHS report examines both depression and depressive symptom severity in the past 2 weeks from a symptom-based questionnaire, by demographic characteristics, functioning difficulties, and recent contact with a mental health professional. Severity is categorized as severe, moderate, mild, or no depressive symptoms. Current depression is defined as severe or moderate symptoms; no depression is defined as mild or no symptoms.
Key Findings from the Report:
- During 2009–2012, 7.6% of Americans aged 12 and over had depression (moderate or severe depressive symptoms in the past 2 weeks). Depression was more prevalent among females and persons aged 40–59.
- About 3% of Americans aged 12 and over had severe depressive symptoms, while almost 78% had no symptoms.
- Persons living below the poverty level were nearly 2½ times more likely to have depression than those at or above the poverty level.
- Almost 43% of persons with severe depressive symptoms reported serious difficulties in work, home, and social activities.
- Of those with severe symptoms, 35% reported having contact with a mental health professional in the past year.