Several clinical studies have been conducted to determine major depressive disorder (MDD) statistics as seen in the American population. The information provided concerning MDD facts and statistics may change over time as research continues to be conducted.

Prevalence of Major Depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. A 2018 study reported that for a 12-month prevalence period, 10.4% of Americans had major depressive disorder, while 20.6% of Americans had a lifetime prevalence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between 2013 and 2016:

  • Women were approximately twice as likely (10.4%) as men (5.5%) to have MDD
  • Non-Hispanic adults had the lowest prevalence of major depression at (3.1%)
  • African Americans had a prevalence of 9.2%
  • The prevalence of depression increased as family income decreased. Approximately 15.8% of the U.S. population that were living below the federal poverty level were suffering from depression.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, impacting 300 million people.

Infographic that explains the prevalence of major depressive disorder

Age of Onset

Although major depressive disorder occurs more commonly in the adult population, according to the National Associate of Anxiety and Depression, major depressive disorder can occur at any age. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the average age of onset for major depressive disorder is 32.5 years.

infographic about the age of onset of major depressive disorder

Diagnosing Clinical Depression

Diagnosing clinical depression is based on the new fifth edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-V). According to the DSM-V criteria, clinical depression is defined as having at least five or more symptoms for two weeks, with at least one of the signs being depressed mood or loss of interest.

The eight symptoms of clinical depression are:

  1. Depressed mood most of the day nearly every day
  2. Increased low interest or pleasure in activities every day or most days
  3. Increased weight loss or weight gain when not dieting, or a decrease or increase in appetite most days
  4. Slowing down of thoughts and reduction in physical movement
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy most days
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or increased guilt most days
  7. Decreased ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness most days
  8. Having repetitive thoughts of death or suicide

infographic that lists the symptoms of major depressive disorder

Major Depressive Disorder and Related Conditions

Major depressive disorder is associated with several chronic conditions. Two major chronic diseases that people with MDD are often affected by are coronary heart disease and diabetes. According to one study, approximately 7 million Americans that have coronary heart disease also have major depressive disorder. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality indicated that 20% of people with major depressive disorder also had coronary heart disease. Another research study showed that people with depression were twice as likely to have diabetes compared to the general population.

Major depression can also co-occur with other psychiatric disorders. Anxiety and eating disorders are two of the most common mental health conditions that co-occur with MDD.

Anxiety

According to one study, about 51.2% of patients with depression also have anxiety. Approximately 75% of patients in primary health care settings live with both depression and anxiety.

Eating Disorders

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

Major Depression Suicide Rate

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is a somewhat low likelihood that somebody that has depression will die from suicide. Only 2% of people treated for depression in an outpatient setting will die from suicide, and those people treated in the inpatient setting are only twice as likely (4%) to die from suicide. Interestingly, for those patients that are untreated, the suicide rate is not substantially higher, with only 2.2–15% of patients dying.

According to the World Federation of Mental Health, although depression is a risk factor for suicidal thinking, people with major depressive disorder that have thoughts of suicide will typically not carry out their plan for suicide. The American Association of Suicidality indicates that 2–9 % of patients with depression actually commit suicide.

Major Depressive Disorder Prognosis and Outlook

Major depressive disorder prognosis depends on factors such as relapse and remission. One study shows that 80% of patients will have a recurrent episode of depression. According to another article, depression is likely to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide by 2020. By 2030, depression is expected to be the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

Statistics on Major Depressive Disorder Treatment

There are various forms of treatment for major depression. However, the choice of treatment for MDD depends on the severity of the disease.

Some of the most common treatments available for major depressive disorder include:

  • Psychotherapy: There are various forms of psychotherapy, but the most common is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a form of therapy that attempts to help individuals cope with negative thoughts and emotions.
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): These medications increase the amount of serotonin available in the brain by preventing serotonin (a chemical in the brain) from being recycled. The most common SSRIs used are fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), or escitalopram (Lexapro).
  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs are the second-most commonly prescribed medications for MDD, after SSRIs. These medications increase the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine available in the brain by preventing them from being recycled. The most common SNRIs used are venlafaxine (Effexor), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), or duloxetine (Cymbalta).

The best treatment for MDD depends on the individual and the severity of their condition. However, success is often seen when a combination of drug therapy and psychotherapy is used. A comprehensive study evaluated whether using SSRIs alone or using SSRIs with psychotherapy was better. The results indicated that using SSRIs with psychotherapy was better than using SSRIs alone. Another study found that using combined forms of psychotherapy with medications was only effective for the treatment of moderate to severe depression. However, for mild depression, using psychotherapy along with medications was not more effective than using psychotherapy alone.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, even though some antidepressants carry a black box warning for increased suicidal thinking in people aged 18–24 years, the chances that an individual will actually commit suicide are less than 0.01%.

If you or anybody you know has major depression and are suicidal:

In many cases, people with MDD also live with co-occurring drug or alcohol abuse. If you’re ready to take the first step toward treatment for these conditions, The Recovery Village can help. Call The Recovery Village today to get started.