What does Depression Look Like? Alarming Numbers among Americans

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

Currently, depression or depressive disorder is more common than you might think. This mood disorder is investigated from different perspectives, to the point that it has been shown that it is a worldwide Public Health problem, where its effective diagnosis and treatment, as well as its causality, are linked to multiple factors such as demographics, economic and sociocultural.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO [1] ), depression is a common and treatable mental affective disorder, characterized by changes in mood with cognitive and physical symptoms. For its part, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Statical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 [2] ) “depression is a mood disorder, characterized mainly by mood disturbance and is classified in a particular way, according to its temporality and symptomatic origin”.

Now, there are different forms of depression [3]  and therefore, each person can experience it differently, since this disorder can develop in unique circumstances, some of them are:

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia: Is a depressed mood that lasts at least two years, may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms.
  • Postpartum Depression: Is the depression experienced during pregnancy or after childbirth. Symptoms of extreme sadness, anxiety and exhaustion make new tasks, your daily activities of caring for yourself of your baby, difficult.
  • Psychotic Depression: Severe depression plus some form of psychosis (delusions, hallucinations), often linked to a depressive “theme”, such as delusions of guilt, poverty or illness.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: It appears during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight, disappearing during the spring and summer. Symptoms such as social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain often return each year during the winter.
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder: It is diagnosed in children and adolescents. Presenting frequent and severe non-cyclical tantrums together with persistent chronic irritability, occurring in more than one setting, for at least one year.
  • Major Depressive Disorder: In this depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities that a person experiences in a period of at least two weeks and with the most specific symptoms such as problems sleeping, eating, low energy, concentration or self-esteem.

According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health [4] , the latter Disorder (major depressive) is recognized as one of the most common mental disorders among American adults age 18 and older. Likewise, it estimates that 21 million adults in the United States, that is 8.4% of all adults in this country, had at least one major depressive episode, of which 14.8 million (6% of all adults) showed a serious deterioration in the last year, being more frequent among women at 10.5% compared to men at 6.2%.

In addition, the figures reveal that this disorder is more frequent among individuals between 18 and 25 years old at 17.0% followed by adults between 26 and 49 at 9.1% and the adult population over age 50 at 5.4%. The figures, segmented by race/ethnicity, show that the incidence is highest among those individuals who reported being of  multiple races at 15.9%, followed by those reporting as being white at 9.5%.

In the case of the adolescent population in the United States, the figures are not encouraging; the same survey reveals that 4.1 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 had at least one major depressive episode, that is 17.0% of the total of this population and of which 12%, or approximately 2.9 million adolescents, suffered some serious deterioration during the year.

The incidence is highest among adolescent females at 25.2% compared to males at 9.2%. The age ranges show that depressive disorder is less frequent among adolescents 12 to 13 years old at 11.2% followed by 18.2% of those age 14 to 15, and ending with 21.9% of adolescents age 16 to 17. Regarding the data by race, the result is similar to that found in the adult population; those who reported belonging to two or more races correspond to 29.9% of all adolescents, followed by those reporting as white  at 18.7%.

The cause of depression is not spontaneous nor singular [5] . Studies show that each occurrence is due to different factors such as genetic, biological, environmental and psychological, among which some are identified as: A life crisis; adverse or traumatic situations; physical illness; medical conditions specially brain related; genetic predisposition; drug and alcohol abuse; as well as financial stress or insufficient income from work or unemployment [6] .

A paper published in Brain Sciences links the causes of depressive disorder to social factors, rather than to biological or physical ones. They consider job stability to be the indicator of the greatest incidence in the mental health of workers due to the role the economy plays in affecting individuals within society, his family, his quality of life and his well-being, The current economic dynamics, global labor markets, and the work conditions in society tend to become increasingly precarious, exacerbated by the migratory status of the general population and the economic crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

An estimated 300 million people worldwide have depression, an important perception of the general cause of morbidity and that is projected to increase until 2030, according to the Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 of the World Health Organization (WHO [7] ). This is a serious mental health problem and perhaps a major cause of disability, it can cause great suffering to the individual and alter their work, school, family and social activities.

Those who experience depression often receive a diagnosis, classified by the intensity of the symptoms and their impact on personal functioning, as either mild, moderate or severe, and although its treatment is effective, it is estimated that a large part of the affected population does not receive early attention due to the stigmatization of mental disorders, or worse, due to lack of attention in underdeveloped countries [8] .

Therefore, if you think you may be suffering from depression [9] , check this list and start by seeking professional help, remember that early detection, diagnosis and timely  personalized treatment, through psychotherapy, support groups, healthy lifestyle habits and pharmacological treatment, have proven to be effective in improving the quality of life of those who suffer.

It is also important to seek to improve parenting styles, since it has been identified that socially adaptable subjects are the result of a warm family environment where children have their physiological and emotional needs satisfied.











Leave a Reply