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How Many People Does Depression Affect

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Mental Health Statistics: Depression

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Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.

Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.1

In 2013, depression was the second leading cause of years lived with a disability worldwide, behind lower back pain. In 26 countries, depression was the primary driver of disability.2

In 2014, 19.7% of people in the UK aged 16 and over showed symptoms of anxiety or depression – a 1.5% increase from 2013. This percentage was higher among females than males .3

Depression And The Elderly

  • 7 million adults aged 65 years and older are affected by depression.
  • More than 1 in 6 Americans working full-time or part-time report assisting with the care of an elderly or disabled family member, relative, or friend. A survey of these adult caregivers found that 40% to 70% of them have clinically significant symptoms of depression.

Depression By Education Level & Employment Status

The statistics presented in the entry above focus on aggregate estimates of prevalence across total populations. In the chart we present data on depression prevalence across a number of OECD countries, disaggregated by education level and employment status.44 This data is based on self-reported prevalence of depression as requested by surveys. There are multiple reasons why this data may differ from IHME statistics presented above: it is based only on adults aged 25-64 years old, and focuses on self-reported depression only. The lack of differentiation in these surveys between mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder mean that self-reported depression data may include individuals with these other disorders.

Categories in the chart have been coloured based on education level, with further categorisation based on whether groups are employed, actively seeking employment, and the total of employed, active and unemployed. Across most countries we tend to see the lowest prevalence in depression amongst those with tertiary education and highest prevalence in those who did not reach upper secondary education.

It is also notable that the large differences in education level close or disappear when we look only at the sub-group of those employed. Overall, the prevalence of depression appears to be lower in individuals in employment relative to those actively seeking employment, or the total population which also includes the unemployed.

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How Does Depression Affect Work

Loss of concentration and enthusiasm, forgetfulness, fatigue, lack of sleep, and other debilitating effects of depression can decrease a persons productivity at work. This is bad news for the economy. A recent study on the impacts of clinical depression in a workplace showed that about $44 billion is lost every year due to depression and resulting poor productivity among employees.

Depression And Its Effect On Your Life

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Clinical depression is also called a major depressive mood disorder. It is a serious and common medical condition, which negatively affects the way you feel, act, and think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8.1 percent of Americans aged 20 and over experienced depression in a given two-week period. Different people experience this condition in different ways. In some cases, it might influence your relationships with people. In other cases, it might interfere with your work, leading to less productivity, and it can also lead to some chronic health conditions.

Depression might look like a minor health condition until you experience severe forms of it. Major depressive disorder is a serious illness that can affect everything you do in your daily life. It is not a condition that people can quickly recover from, like a stomach bug or cold. There are a lot of people with depression who just think that they are feeling sad, and believe it will go away with time. However, there are millions of other people for whom depression is a constant drain. Therefore, extra support and help for those people are essential.

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Who Does It Affect

Depression can affect anybody young or old, rich or poor, man or woman. While depression can affect anyone, at anytime, it does seem to strike most often when a person is going through changes. Changes can be negative life changes such as the loss of a loved one or a job, regular life changes such as starting university or a big move, or physical changes such as hormonal changes or the onset of an illness. Because depression can be linked to change, certain groups of people are at risk more often than others:

Suicidal Thoughts And Self

Suicidal thoughts and self-harm arent mental health diagnoses. But they are related to mental health. Over the course of someones lifetime :

Women are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and make suicide attempts than men . But men are 3 times more likely to take their own life than women .

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Prevalence Of Depressive Symptoms Over Time

Around one in five adults aged 16 years and over in Great Britain experienced some form of depression in early 2021 , an increase from 19% in November 2020. Rates in early 2021 were more than double those observed before the coronavirus pandemic, where 10% of adults experienced some form of depression .

The presence of moderate to severe depressive symptoms was indicated by a score of 10 or more on the eight-item Patient Health Questionnaire . Further information can be found in the Glossary. Previous estimates of adults experiencing depressive symptoms using the same measure were published in and .

Selection Of Independent Variables

“Depression: Why Do So Many People Have Depression?”

The selection of independent variables included in the fully adjusted regression model were based on:

  • user need and relevance: based on evaluation of previous analysis and discussions with users
  • data quality: selecting variables with accurate measurement and sufficient sample size
  • assessment of suitability: excluding variables with multicollinearity

Missing values were excluded from the regression analysis where a response was not provided for a question or variable included in the model. As a result, 25,823 adults were included in the regression model analysis. A full breakdown of sample sizes and population estimates for each of the characteristics included in the fully adjusted regression model are available in the accompanying dataset.

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Comparisons Between Population Groups

Younger adults and people living with a child aged under 16 years had the largest increases in rates of depressive symptoms in early 2021, when compared with pre-pandemic levels .

For adults aged 16 to 39 years, rates in early 2021 were more than double when compared with before the pandemic . In comparison, 10% of adults aged 70 years and over experienced some form of depression in early 2021, compared with 5% before the pandemic.

In early 2021, around one in three adults who reported being unable to afford an unexpected but necessary expense of £850 experienced some form of depression, compared with one in five adults before the pandemic. For adults who were able to afford this expense, 13% experienced depressive symptoms in early 2021, increasing from 5% before the pandemic.

Figure 2: In early 2021, rates of depressive symptoms for adults aged 16 to 39 years were more than double when compared with before the pandemic

Great Britain, July 2019 to March 2021


  • Base population: All adults in Great Britain.
  • Afford an unexpected expense: Adults were asked if their household could afford an unexpected, but necessary, expense of £850. This gives us an indication of adults who may be struggling financially.
  • Child in household: Whether there is a child living in the household. A child is any person aged under 16 years.
  • Symptoms Of Depression & Anxiety

    During a global health crisis, it is easy for mental health symptoms to sneak up gradually. Always be on the lookout for symptoms of depression like:

    • Low mood and irritability
    • Changes in sleep, diet, and activity level
    • Lower motivation and energy
    • Feelings sped up or slowed down
    • Poor attention and concentration
    • Lower self-worth and higher guilt
    • Thoughts of death and suicide

    Symptoms of anxiety can present as:

    • Higher levels of worry and fear
    • Feeling nervous and shaky
    • Sweating more, feeling flushed and fidgeting
    • Being unable to sleep well and having a poor appetite

    Some levels of depression and anxiety are common and typical, but any time the symptoms last more than two weeks consistently or radically impact your life, it may be time to seek mental health or addiction services.

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    Understanding Makes All The Difference

    A good example of this is the flow of negative thoughts into the mind, a common feature of Depression. Sometimes we are hardly even conscious of these thoughts, which may cause us to feel that things will always turn out for the worst or that a task is completely beyond us.Once we understand why this happens, however, we can start looking out for and tackling these thoughts. They are often unjustied or irrational. They are often negative about things that are just as likely to turn out well.There are often alternative, more practical and positive ways of dealing with these concerns, which can be discussed with the treating doctor or other health professional.

    Symptoms Of Depression In Young People

    Chronic depression, How does it affect people?

    Like everyone, young people can have occasional mood swings, feel irritable sometimes and be particularly sensitive to rejection and criticism. But if these moods have lasted for two weeks or more, the young person could have depression.Symptoms that may indicate depression include:

    • feeling irritable or grumpy
    • feeling worthless or guilty most of the time
    • having thoughts of death or suicide
    • having trouble sleeping either falling asleep or staying asleep
    • lacking motivation and feeling everything is too hard
    • losing interest in food or eating too much
    • losing weight or gaining weight
    • using cigarettes, alcohol or illegal drugs.

    Sometimes there are no obvious symptoms of depression, but parents may notice behavioural changes in young people that suggest depression and should not be ignored. These include:

    • social withdrawal
    • use of alcohol and drugs.

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    What Risks And Complications Can Depression Cause

    Having depression can cause other problems. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health, and it may affect other areas of your life too. For example, depression may cause:

    • disturbed sleep,
    • difficulties with work and your hobbies,
    • difficulties keeping contact with friends and families, or
    • suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming.

    Some people might also drink more alcohol to try and relieve depression. However, as we said in the previous section above, this can actually make depression worse.

    If you have any of these problems, speak to your GP.

    An Attempt Or Suicidal Behavior

    • Doesnt know why theyre doing it, but feels unable to stop it.
    • May not remember the attempt when its over
    • Feels as if they were/are in a trance.
    • May think they will be rescued.
    • Acting out pain because of an inability to verbalize feelings.
    • Increased impulsiveness and impaired judgment, perceptions and cognitive skills.

    Healthy, non-impulsive children who talk about death or seem preoccupied after losing a friend or loved one, but have a clear understanding that death is final, and who are not depressed, are probably at a very low risk for suicidal behavior.

    Typically, when asked about their own death, children most often state it will happen due to old age or getting sick when theyre old. Many suicidal children believe that when others die, death is final, but that if they die, their death is reversible. Vulnerable children and adolescents who may be under stress may have a change in perceptions of and feelings about death.

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    Does Depression Increase The Risk For Suicide

    Although the majority of people who have depression do not die by suicide, having major depression does increase suicide risk compared to people without depression. The risk of death by suicide may, in part, be related to the severity of the depression.

    New data on depression that has followed people over long periods of time suggests that about 2 percent of those people ever treated for depression in an outpatient setting will die by suicide. Among those ever treated for depression in an inpatient hospital setting, the rate of death by suicide is twice as high . Those treated for depression as inpatients following suicide ideation or suicide attempts are about three times as likely to die by suicide as those who were only treated as outpatients. There are also dramatic gender differences in lifetime risk of suicide in depression. Whereas about 7 percent of men with a lifetime history of depression will die by suicide, only 1 percent of women with a lifetime history of depression will die by suicide.

    Another way about thinking of suicide risk and depression is to examine the lives of people who have died by suicide and see what proportion of them were depressed. From that perspective, it is estimated that about 60 percent of people who commit suicide have had a mood disorder . Younger persons who kill themselves often have a substance abuse disorder, in addition to being depressed.

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    How Is Depression Treated

    How Does Depression Affect Married Life?

    The first step to getting treatment is to see your GP. If your GP thinks you have depression, they will talk to you about the treatments they can offer.

    What are talking therapies?

    Talking therapy is a general term to describe any psychological therapy that involves talking. You may also hear the terms counselling or psychotherapy used to describe talking therapy.

    Therapy should offer you a safe, confidential place to talk about your life and anything confusing, painful or uncomfortable. It allows you to talk with someone who is trained to listen attentively and to help you improve things.

    Talking therapy often takes place face to face. But you may also be able to have therapy over the phone, by video call or online. There are different types of talking therapy that you might be offered. These include:

    • cognitive-behavioural therapy,
    • mindfulness based therapy, and
    • counselling.

    The type of therapy you are offered will depend on the cause of your symptoms and their severity. Therapies may also have different levels based on how long or intense the treatment is.

    Ask your GP about therapy if you think it might help. Some of these therapies will be available in your area. Some areas offer a self-referral option for NHS talking therapies. Please refer to your local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service to find out about this option.

    You may also be able to access therapy privately or through your employer in an Employee Assistance Programme.

    How can exercise help?

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    Antenatal And Postnatal Depression

    Women are at an increased risk of depression during pregnancy and in the year following childbirth . This time frame may also be referred to as the perinatal period.

    The causes of depression at this time can be complex and are often the result of a combination of factors. In the days immediately following birth, many women experience the baby blues, which is a common condition related to hormonal changes, affecting up to 80 per cent of women who have given birth.

    The baby blues, or the general stress of adjusting to pregnancy or a new baby, are common experiences, but are different from depression.

    Depression is longer lasting and can affect not only the mother, but her relationship with her baby, the childs development, the mothers relationship with her partner and with other members of the family.

    Up to one in 10 women will experience depression during pregnancy. This increases to 16 per cent in the first three months after having a baby.

    How Does Depression Affect The Body

    Depression can have various physical manifestations, including headaches, erratic heart rate, nausea, and dizzy spells, fatigue and lethargy, weight loss or gain, muscle pains, allergic reactions, and gastrointestinal problems. Depressed people may either lose appetite or eat too much food. Depression can also further complicate symptoms of pre-existing medical conditions such as heart or kidney disease.

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    What Treatments Are Available

    Friends and family may provide all the support that is needed in mild cases of depression. Having someone who is willing to listen and ask concerned questions can make all the difference. However, even the most caring and involved friends or family members may not be enough when depression is more severe. In such cases, it is important to seek professional help.

    Mental health professionals who may be consulted include psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and masters-level therapists. Some may first seek help from a general physician or religious counselor. Each type of professional has their own perspective and expertise, and practitioners of all kinds have experience dealing with depression. The important thing is to seek professional help when symptoms are severe and/or longstanding. In factl, it is wise to seek help even when symptoms are not severe to help prevent depression from getting worse.

    Therapists may help individuals make changes in difficult life situations. With the individual’s permission, they can set up meetings with friends or parents to explore ways of resolving a crisis. Depressed individuals who are at high risk of killing themselves may need to be in a hospital temporarily. While this may seem like a drastic measure, it can be life-saving, and it may allow the person to get the treatment and support that they need.

    How Do Doctors Treat It

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    Although there’s no cure for bipolar disorder, treatment can help stabilize moods and help the person manage and control symptoms. Like other teens with long-lasting medical conditions , teens with bipolar disorder need to work closely with their doctors and other medical professionals to treat it.

    This team of medical professionals, together with the teen and family, develop what is called a treatment plan. Teens with bipolar disorder will probably receive medication, such as a mood stabilizer, from a psychiatrist or other medical doctor. A psychologist or other type of counselor will provide counseling or psychotherapy for the teen and his or her family. Doctors will watch the symptoms closely and offer additional treatment advice if necessary.

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