7.6% of Americans are depressed, but few seek mental health treatment

Gender, on the other hand, had a large effect, with women experiencing higher levels of depression than men in all age groups. The biggest gap was among people in their 40s and 50s — 12.3% of women in this age group were moderately or severely depressed, compared with 7.2% of men. That 5.1-point difference was 30% bigger than the 3.9-point difference for the entire study population. Overall, 9.5% of women were depressed, along with 5.6% of men.


Depression took a meaningful toll on people’s lives, the researchers discovered. About 43% of those with severe depression said they had “serious difficulty” managing their work, home and social activities, and another 45% had “some difficulty.”  For people with moderate depression, the corresponding figures were 16% and 58%. Even for people with mild depressive symptoms, 4% had serious difficulty with their daily activities and 42% had some difficulty.


Despite these problems, only 35% of people suffering severe depression and 20% of those with moderate depression told interviewers they had seen a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse or clinical social worker. (The researchers couldn’t verify whether these people actually began treatment for their depression.) Latinos were the least likely group to seek professional help from a mental health specialist — only 28% of those with severe depression and 17% of those with moderate depression did so, according to the report.

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