Major depression diagnoses have climbed among Americans in recent years, most dramatically among adolescents and millennials, according to a study of 2013–2016 health care claims data from more than 41 million commercially insured Americans by the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Association.
Depression was second only to hypertension among leading health care conditions in Americans. More than 9 million commercially insured Americans have major depression, representing 4.4% of the population. Women are more often affected than men, with 6% of women and 3% of men diagnosed with depression. However, rates of depression diagnoses for both men and women increased 33% from 2013 to 2016.
The rise in depression diagnoses was highest in adolescents (ages 12 to 17) and millennials (ages 18 to 34): diagnosis rates increased 63% among adolescents and 47% among millennials over the three years. For those ages 35 to 49 and 50 to 64, increases were 26% and 23%, respectively.
An important correlation was noted between depression and overall health. Those diagnosed with depression had a 27% lower overall health score than those without depression, as determined by the BCBS Health Index. Depression was associated with an increased likelihood of having one or more additional serious or chronic health conditions. Eighty-five percent of those with a depression diagnosis had one or more other health conditions; only 15% had depression alone.
The full report is available at https://www.bcbs.com/sites/default/files/file-attachments/health-of-america-report/HoA_Major_Depression_Report.pdf.—Joan Zolot, PA