According to new report from Gallup.
About 18% of adults — more than 1 in 6 — say they have depression or are being treated for depression, up 7 percentage points from 2015, when Gallup first began conducting surveys on the topic.
According to the survey, nearly 3 in 10 adults have been clinically diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives, also a record high.
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken an undeniable toll on mental health. Rates of clinical depression have risen steadily in the US but have “rebounded markedly” in recent years, Gallup data shows.
“The fact that Americans are more depressed and struggling after this period of incredible stress and isolation is perhaps not surprising,” the doctor said. Rebecca Brendel, President of the American Psychiatric Association who did not participate in the new study. “There are lingering effects on our health, especially our mental health, over the past three years that have eroded everything we knew.”
But experts say mental health awareness has grown, which could lead to more diagnoses — and that’s a good thing.
“We simplify the conversation about mental health and consider it as part of our overall well-being, just like physical health,” Brendel said. “People are aware of depression and people are seeking help.”
The younger generation is especially willing to talk about mental health issues, she says. But the Covid-19 pandemic has also disrupted key growth periods for young people, which may have made them more susceptible to depression-causing factors.
According to a Gallup poll, young people report higher rates of depression than any other age group and the biggest increase in years. Nearly a quarter of adults under 30 say they are currently depressed.
Lifetime rates of clinical depression are significantly higher among women, with rates rising twice as fast as men. More than a third of women said they had been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives, compared with a fifth of men, according to the survey.
In addition, for the first time, lifetime rates of clinical depression among blacks and Hispanics equaled or exceeded those among white adults.
“Depression has many different manifestations. Connecting with cultural norms and belief systems is something that the APA and other organizations have been paying much more attention to in recent years,” Brendel said.
Recent updates to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the formal guide to the clinical assessment of mental health conditions, have included cultural language interviews to help keep the individual experience at the center of attention.
But as demand for mental health services grows, the US is facing a severe shortage of providers. The US needs more than 8,000 mental health practitioners to fill the gap, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.
There is a wide range of treatment options available, including support from primary care physicians and workplace benefits.
“Depression is treatable,” Brendel said. “The sooner we ask for help, the more effectively and quickly it will help us get back on track.”