Depression: Statistics Show A Major Challenge

When it comes to depression, the numbers are well, depressing.

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization named depression as the world’s most widespread illness—and shows little danger of losing the title anytime soon. According to WHO, the number of people with depression—a “persistent sadness and loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities for two weeks or more”—has climbed more than 18 percent over the last decade.

WHO estimates that 322 million people are living with depression worldwide. In the U.S., an estimated 16.1 million adults—about 7 percent of the population—has experienced at least one depressive episode in the last year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that mood disorders—including major depression—are the third most common cause of hospitalization in youth and adults ages 18-44.

While the statistics are somewhat staggering, there are positive signs. Research over the last year has introduced new therapies and improvements in existing therapies for those who suffer from depression. Blood tests have shown promise in identifying which medication therapy is most likely to work.

While depression can be life altering, it does respond well to treatment. Medications including antidepressants, psychotherapy, brain stimulation therapies and light therapy all work well. Alternative approaches such as acupuncture, meditation, faith and nutrition also can be included as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Depression is treatable, but the earlier the treatment starts, the more successful that treatment will be. Major depression is a serious illness that requires intervention. If you or someone you know has depression to the point of suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately.


World Health Organization
National Alliance on Mental Health
Science Daily