Depression is the second leading cause of death worldwide, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego.
According to a study published in the journal Neurology, about 8 percent of all US adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) are experiencing some degree of mental health problems, and nearly 6 percent have depression as their primary or primary cause of illness.
Depression, often referred to as “the second leading killer after lung cancer,” can lead to a range of mental disorders including anxiety, mood swings, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and substance abuse.
The study involved more than 2,000 people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, with all of the participants suffering from a diagnosis of MDD or other major depression.
The researchers asked participants about their thoughts and feelings on a range the following days, with the goal of determining if they were experiencing depression as a result of their current illness.
The questionnaires were written in the hope that participants would be able to provide answers that could be used to help determine if they are at increased risk of developing the mental illness.
Participants were also asked to fill out a questionnaire about their medication use, and to report how often they used it.
“It’s an important first step to determine whether you have a mental health disorder, but it is not a magic pill,” said senior author Christopher O’Leary, MD, professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego and lead author of the study.
“If you have symptoms of depression, there are many treatments available, and we hope that this study will provide information to the clinician to help guide their treatment.”
The researchers also analyzed data on the prevalence of depression as well as other mental disorders and the rate of antidepressant use.
They found that about 6 percent of the respondents with major depression reported that they had used antidepressant medications at least once in the past year, and that between 2 and 6 percent had used antidepressants more than once.
More than half of the responders to the depression questionnaire reported that the medication they were taking had been prescribed to them for depression.
The study found that in the study group, the prevalence and the percentage of people using antidepressants was highest among those who were depressed at baseline.
About 1.5 percent of those with major MDD had used any antidepressant medication in the preceding year, compared to only 0.4 percent of non-depressed people with MDD.
The majority of the people who reported using antidepressants had been taking them for a long time, between the ages of 30 and 50.
“These findings suggest that if people have a history of depression at baseline, it can lead them to use antidepressants even if they do not have the symptoms of a depressive disorder,” O’Brien said.
“We need to be aware that there are people with depression who are not taking antidepressants and need additional support and resources.
It may be a helpful step to be able the person who is suffering from depression can take some medication to help manage their symptoms.”
O’Leary added that these findings were important because they could help improve treatment and recovery for people with depressive symptoms.
“Our study shows that for some people who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for MDD, antidepressant treatment may be helpful in alleviating symptoms of the illness,” he said.
“This could have important implications for people who are already receiving treatment for depression, and for those who are trying to manage the symptoms.
For example, people who use antidepressants to manage depression may also have a higher likelihood of experiencing a relapse or becoming more depressed.”
For more on depression, check out these stories: Drinking coffee with Depression: What to Know About Coffee’s Anti-Depressant Properties, How to Make It, and How to Avoid It.