ADHD News & Research

Nearly 1 in 12 Americans Suffer From Depression – But Very Few Seek Treatment

A new federal study released the US depression rates, which were as high as 1 in 12. However, very few adults sought treatment for severe depression.

Roughly one in twelve Americans have suffered from moderate to severe symptoms of depression, according to a new study published by the National Center for Health Statistics. The study found that, between 2009 and 2012, 7.6 percent of Americans aged 12 and older had suffered from depression in the two weeks before being surveyed. More than one-third of these people were found to suffer from severe depression.

The study asked participants if they had sought treatment for their depressive symptoms, and – perhaps unsurprisingly, given a lingering stigma surrounding mental health issues – the answer was overwhelmingly no. Only 35 percent of those with severe depression sought help in the three-year time period, along with 20 percent of those with moderate depression.

Surprising or not, these findings troubled the study’s authors, who said, “people with severe depression should be getting psychotherapy.” Lead author Laura Pratt added that, due to the need for medication in many cases of severe depression, it’s “even more concerning” that 35 percent of those with severe depression have never sought out a trained mental health professional.

The study also noted gender and racial divides in depression rates nationwide. Twelve percent of women aged 40 to 59 reported depressive symptoms – the highest rate for any group in the study. African Americans and Latinos were more likely to report depression than were white respondents, at 9.7 percent, 9.4 percent, and 6.9 percent, respectively.

Highly effective treatments exist for both moderate and severe depression, including medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy.

If you think you may be suffering from depression, don’t hesitate to look for help. Depression can affect overall health, work performance and relationships with friends and family, particularly if the depression is categorized as severe. But studies have shown that among depressed adults who seek treatment, 80 percent see improvement in the first 4 to 6 weeks.