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Mental health crisis: US depression rates reach all-time high

More than 1 in 6 adults say they are depressed or receiving treatment for depression.
Mental health crisis: US depression rates reach all-time highs
Posted at 11:59 AM, May 17, 2023

An alarming new report has unveiled a troubling reality in the United States' mental health crisis. More than 1 in 6 adults say they are depressed or being treated for depression, the highest level ever recorded since Gallup first started tracking the condition.

According to the new survey, nearly 3 in 10 American adults say they have been clinically diagnosed with depression in their lifetime, a nearly 10% increase since 2015. Additionally, the percentage of adults who are currently diagnosed with depression has also increased to an all-time high of 17.8%.

Gallup surveyed a diverse sample of more than 5,000 U.S. adults from Feb. 21-28.

Data shows the rates of depression are rising fastest among younger adults and women. The number of those aged 18 to 29 who are currently diagnosed with depression has nearly doubled over the past six years, increasing from 13% in 2017 to more than 24% in 2023. 

Meanwhile, about 1 in 3 women say they've been clinically diagnosed with depression in their lifetime, an increase of more than 10% since 2017. Lifetime depression rates are also rising faster among Black and Hispanic adults as compared to White respondents, who have historically reported higher rates of depression.

The figure represents a sharp increase in depression rates as compared to previous assessments, highlighting a concerning trajectory in mental health challenges throughout the country. While clinical depression has been a growing problem for years, Gallup notes that rates of depression have "jumped notably" since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the country.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently declared loneliness and isolation the nation's latest epidemic, calling them an urgent public health issue that's as deadly as smoking.

"Loneliness is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death," he said. "The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity."

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Currently, about 17% of adults reported experiencing significant loneliness as of "yesterday," according to Gallup. Among subgroups, young adults are more likely to report being lonely, with daily feelings of sadness, worry, and anger — all of which relate to depression. 

As the U.S. continues to grapple with its mental health crisis, the Gallup study serves as a wake-up call that the issue appears to be getting worse. According to the CDC, more than 57 million Americans visited a doctor's office in 2021 with a mental disorder as a primary diagnosis. 

If you need to talk to someone, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988, or text "HOME" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.


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