Definitions, Prevalence, and Treatment of Depression

Major depression is defined as a period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest/pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specified symptoms, such as sleep disruption, changes in eating patterns, decreased energy, concentration, and/or feelings of low self-worth.39 The estimated prevalence of at least one major depressive episode among U.S. adults was 7.6% in 2017 and was highest in adults aged 18-25 (13.1%).28,40,41 Depression is more common in females than in males and rates vary worldwide (Figure 2).28,40,41 Treatment types include non-pharmacologic therapy with a health professional — including development of coping mechanisms and/or support systems, medication treatment, and/or a combination of both.42 Approximately 35% of all adults diagnosed with depression did not receive any treatment at all.28 Among adolescents, this number is significantly higher with 60.1% of adolescents reporting a major depressive episode receiving no treatment in 2017.28 While depression and anxiety can be linked, they are not identical and reported prevalence worldwide does not align with those of anxiety, indicating that there are other factors that may play into the diagnosis of depression.

Figure 2. Global prevalence of depression by WHO region.28
chart showing global prevalence of depression by WHO region
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