African American middle age woman looking sad.

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Data reflects ‘public health crisis intensifying in the U.S. even before onset of the pandemic’

NEW YORK — Depression is on the rise in the United States, according to sobering new research from Columbia University and City University of New York. Even more troubling, study authors add that even as depression has increased, there hasn’t been an uptick in people seeking mental health help or treatment.

Study authors say that in 2020, nearly one in 10 Americans reported having depression over the prior 12 months. Almost one in five adolescents or young adults reported the same.

Data used for this project was provided by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health spanning 2015 through 2020. That survey is a nationally representative poll of Americans aged 12 and older. Major depression is the most common mental disorder seen in the United States, and considered a strong risk factor for suicidal behavior.

Increases in depression rates are hardly a new trend; depression in the U.S. population jumped from 6.6 percent in 2005 to 7.3 percent in 2015.

“Our study updates the depression prevalence estimates for the U.S. population through the year 2020 and confirms escalating increases in depression from 2015 through 2019, reflecting a public health crisis that was intensifying in the U.S. even before the onset of the pandemic,” says lead study author Renee D. Goodwin, PhD, an adjunct professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and professor of Epidemiology at The City University of New York, in a statement.. “The net effect of these trends suggests an accelerating public health crisis and that parity and public-service announcement efforts have not achieved equity in depression treatment.”

‘Depression early in life predictive of increased risk of additional mental health problems’

Regarding 2020, nine percent of Americans aged 12 or older reported experiencing a past-year major depressive episode. However, the condition was deemed most common among both young adults (ages 18-25) and adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old. Both of those age groups exhibited depression rates right around the 17 percent mark.

Meanwhile, depression increased the fastest among adolescents and young adults, and also ballooned across close to all gender, racial/ethnic, income, and education groups. Interestingly, however, prevalence of the condition did not change when it came to adults over 35. All in all, and perhaps most importantly, rates of people seeking help stayed consistently low.

“Our results showed most adolescents with depression neither told or talked with a healthcare professional about depression symptoms nor received pharmacologic treatment from 2015 through 2020,” Prof. Goodwin notes.

Non-Hispanic white individuals displayed the highest prevalence of depression, exceeding all other race/ethnic groups. It was also more common among women, and adults who weren’t currently or previously married. Even across income brackets depression levels increased across the board between 2015 and 2019. That being said, those with the lowest household income did have the highest prevalence of depression.

“The elevated level and concentration of untreated depression among adolescents and young adults are especially problematic because untreated depression early in life is predictive of an increased risk of subsequent additional mental health problems,” Prof. Goodwin concludes. “The short- and long-term consequences of the pandemic on depression are not yet clear, but these estimates are a requisite starting point for quantifying the mental health impact of the pandemic. Expanding evidence-based, community-based, public-facing campaigns that promote help-seeking, early intervention, prevention, and education about depression are urgently needed.”

The study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

About John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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  1. Scott says:

    I STILL am seeing way too many here, including kids, in Seattle all masked up. Seems being afraid and scared is the plan and job #1 for old Joe and company. When you are Simon, you will tell them when to jump AND how high to do it. “Simon says, the border is NOT open”. “Simon says I’m not THAT old”.

    1. Derf says:

      Yes because Americans were all dancing a jig before he was elected…
      You’re a moron.

      I have a simple answer for you America, turn off the TV and go outside, put down your phone and go for a walk, eat a real meal and go to bed at 10pm, turn off your phone while you sleep. Contrary to what you think, you are not that important, nothing will happen for the 7 hours you don’t touch your phone.

    2. edearl says:

      The progressive left is doing this to our kids, and we all know they have derangement syndrome and have been brainwashed, now we are hanging out the laundry to dry.

  2. Steven P Yevchak says:

    What do you expect OTHER than adults and children being “depressed”? Adults are watching their country descend into the Pit with the current governments actions – their 401K’s are getting slaughtered (if they even still HAVE a job) and their cities are crime-ridden hellholes where it’s not safe to even walk to the corner store? And children KNOW there’s nothing but a Dystopian future in store for them and that they’ll NEVER have the opportunities or quality-of-life that their parents did. No freaking WONDER suicides are rampant!

  3. Lance says:

    God Lives! Ask the Holy Spirit to raise your thoughts and carry your burdens! Do not live in fear! Seek Christ and ask for peace and rest in him. He will answer your prayers. Seek the word and read your bible.

    1. rassalas says:

      Read, yes, but not the bible.

  4. Bison says:

    The analysis of this paper is not very rigorous. First, it does not show that depression is on the rise, only self-reporting of depression. Second, self-reporting is not valid in this case. Different people have different thresholds for what they think qualifies as depression. Those societal norms can change over time, and infact they have.

  5. Bison says:

    I am a scientist pointing out the flaws in this research. How dare you flag my post? Why don’t you learn something from it instead?

  6. Ads Base says:

    Thank you Brandon and all other evil Leftists.

    1. Steve says:

      Auntie mom loves u

  7. says:

    I call depression, the ‘human condition’. Our reality is one giant social construct, we are conditioned to pretend from a very early age.

  8. JohnD says:

    Study finds: A lot of snowflakes.

    1. Steve says:

      JohnD and Trump biggest snowflakes worldwide . 3 viagra needed just to wake it up enough to. pee.

    2. Juan says:

      Thank you for a quality laugh! I couldn’t agree with you more.

  9. Jim Hyland says:

    Any life without Jesus Christ is hopeless, lacking any sense of purpose. To make matters even worse, the entire world is in a whirlwind as we are approaching the Last Day. There are divisions everywhere and public shaming at all levels. The heart of mankind has become desperately wicked as in the days of Noah, but even worse.

  10. rassalas says:

    Hypochondria is a known mental illness

  11. DF43566 says:

    Just ONCE I’d like to read something written by a likely journalism major that does not use these words: nearly, almost, as much as, up to, as many as. Why are the numbers rounded up? Are odd numbers and decimal points forbidden? The exact numbers appear in the studies but the findings are either dumbed down or amplified to increase the drama rather than the accuracy of a story. I know journalism majors hate math, so they did not become scientists or economists. I wish they would stop scaremongering.

  12. Pem Das says:

    Depression is caused by fear which can program your DNA with an instinct. Flight or fight response stimulates a cascade of hormones into your blood. These hormones can literally create a instinctual memory of the stimulus so that your response is automatic and you lose control of your nervous system. And psychedelics can extinguish this conditioned fear from your DNA. Thats what they do, they are fear removal machines. I am Pem Das and I approve this message!