The number of U.S. adults who report being diagnosed with depression at some point in their life has surged to the highest rate ever recorded by Gallup, jumping almost 10 percentage points since 2015.
For the poll, Gallup surveyed 5,167 U.S. adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia between Feb. 21 and Feb. 28. Respondents were asked if they had ever been diagnosed with depression and whether they currently have or are being treated for depression.
Overall, 29% of respondents said they had been diagnosed with depression at one point in their life — an almost 10 percentage point increase from the 19.6% who said the same in 2015. In addition, 17.8% of respondents said they currently have or are receiving treatment for depression, up from 10.5% who said the same in 2015.
According to the poll, there are significant disparities by gender, age, and race when it comes to depression rate.
Currently, over a third of women (36.7%) report having been diagnosed with depression at some point, compared to 20.4% of men. Their rate of depression has also increased at almost twice the rate of men since 2017.
Individuals ages 18 to 29 (34.3%) and those ages 30 to 44 (34.9%) report much higher depression diagnosis rates than those who are older than 44. Along with women (23.8%), young adults ages 18 to 29 (24.6%) also have the highest rates of current depression or treatment for depression.
In addition, Black and Hispanic adults now have higher lifetime depression rates than white adults, who have historically reported higher rates of both lifetime and current depression.
"Clinical depression had been slowly rising in the U.S. prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but has jumped notably in its wake," Gallup wrote. "Social isolation, loneliness, fear of infection, psychological exhaustion (particularly among front-line responders such as healthcare workers), elevated substance abuse and disruptions in mental health services have all likely played a role."
In this year's State of the Union, President Joe Biden highlighted the mental health crisis facing many Americans, particularly young children.
"Let's do more on mental health, especially for our children," he said. "When millions of young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma, we owe them greater access to mental health care at school."
Similarly, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently declared loneliness and isolation an epidemic "that has harmed individual and societal health" in the United States, and proposed a national framework "to rebuild social connection and community in America."
To assist Americans with their mental health needs, the Biden administration has requested new funding for mental health research and the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, which launched last summer, for 2024. HHS has also launched a website, Find.Support.gov, to help people find mental healthcare resources.
"988 … has been a blessing. But what if you're a few steps ahead of that point in the road?" said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "Why not know how to navigate that road ahead of time?" (Japsen, Forbes, 5/17; Owermohle, STAT, 5/17; Sforza, The Hill, 5/17; Witters, Gallup, 5/17)
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