Some frightening news last week, according to health insurance data from Blue Cross Blue Shield:
Major depression has a diagnosis rate of 4.4 percent in the United States, affecting more than 9 million commercially insured Americans.
Diagnoses of major depression have risen dramatically by 33 percent since 2013. This rate is rising even faster among millennials (up 47 percent) and adolescents (up 47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls).
Women are diagnosed with major depression at higher rates than men (6 percent and nearly 3 percent, respectively).
The report also found that younger generations are seeing the largest increase ind depression rates:
By the way, keep in mind that this data is from among those who have health insurance – and we know that there are millions of Americans who do not, and those in poverty are more likely to be depressed…so this is an underestimation.
This is a genuinely terrifying. We should all be deeply, deeply worried about the findings of this report, findings that, unfortunately, ring true.
Also worth noting: Rates of major depression vary significantly on a state by state basis:
The NBC article on the subject referred to a variety of potential causes for the increase, including:
- An increasing sense of business in our day to day lives and a loss of community that comes with it.
- Overall world events and our increasing awareness of the trauma that exists…everywhere.
- Social media.
- Overdependance on smart phones.
We’re going to have to start treating depression for what it is: A major public health crisis. I won’t pretend to be fully capable of developing every solution – and certainly not solutions which are politically viable (treating mental health for everyone requires infusing billions of dollars into the mental health system, and we’re not doing that anytime soon, sadly). And I’ll add this: Many of the items which would really reduce depression are societal and cultural changes that are largely beyond the reach of government. They include things like slowing own our daily lives, increasing family and community bonds, and taking our phones and throwing them out the window.
But the fact is this: We have to do better. As I write this entry I am staring at my children and I worry, given this world and their genetic predisposition, that this will be them one day. Families have to now constantly be on the lookout for potential mental health problems. They have to teach coping skills and resilience, and they have to be willing to seek treatment when symptoms of mental illness/depression begin to display themselves. I wish I’d realized this when I was younger – early treatment for mental illness – like for most illnesses – is critical.
My mission with this blog is largely to discuss mental health and raise awareness. It’s becoming apparent that this awareness is more needed now than ever.