By the numbers: 1.3 million people in the United States have depression as a diagnosable mental disorder, according to a recent survey.
2.4 million have depression or bipolar disorder.
3.1 million have some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
4.6 million have anxiety or panic disorder.
5.2 million have substance abuse or dependence.
6.4 millon, or 7.5% of the population, suffer from depression, according the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
The most commonly reported depression symptom is anxiety, which is also often accompanied by sadness and sadness-like mood swings, which can lead to anxiety-related health problems.
The NAMI survey also found that the percentage of Americans who report feeling anxious is higher than in any other age group.
The highest prevalence of anxiety in the population is among seniors, who are more likely to be depressed than are younger adults, said NAMI senior researcher Dr. Robert Buss, M.D. “Our findings highlight the importance of having a good understanding of the complex mental health challenges that are associated with depression and anxiety,” Buss said.
“While depression is an acute and often disabling illness, anxiety and stress can cause long-term, debilitating effects on physical and mental health.”
While the NAMI surveys are only a snapshot in time, they provide an important window into how Americans are living with mental illness, said Dr. Elizabeth Gee, co-director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
“It’s not surprising that depression is more prevalent in older adults, but the prevalence is highest among those aged 55 to 64,” Gee said.
Depression has become a common concern for many, as Americans face the financial challenges of raising a family, caring for their elderly parent, and navigating the stresses of living with the new and changing realities of a rapidly evolving economy.
A growing number of experts have noted that people who struggle with depression can have severe health problems, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
In fact, many doctors have warned that the most common side effects of antidepressants and other mental health treatments are withdrawal symptoms, such as a feeling of depression, anxiety, or panic attacks, which may worsen over time.
Gee said the number of depressed Americans has more than doubled in the last 10 years.
Many of the nation’s top mental health experts have also pointed out that there is still much to learn about depression and how to best manage it.
“There is still a lot we don’t know about depression, its etiology, and how it might be treated,” said Drs.
Jennifer Feltz, MEd, and Michael J. Gerson, MSc, MPhil, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
They also noted that there are many variables that affect the severity of depression.
While depression affects more than 40 million Americans, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in April found that depression affects a smaller proportion of people in each age group, with the largest proportion of depression among younger adults.
Dr. Richard J. Fisch, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Law, noted that the research also showed that people with bipolar disorder are more often diagnosed with depression than are people with a depressive episode.
Another recent study found that among people who are in recovery, depression rates are nearly four times higher than the national average.
There are also a number of medications available to treat depression.
Dr. Gary D. Fung, director of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health at Harvard Medical School, said antidepressants are effective in treating depression, but that more research is needed.
Fung noted that antidepressant use in the general population has been declining for several years, and the drugs are increasingly used for patients with major depressive disorder.
Some antidepressants are available over-the-counter, while others are available as prescription medications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the number and rate of prescriptions for antidepressants has been increasing.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, antidepressants were dispensed to more than 14 million people, or 5.8% of people aged 18 to 64, in 2011.
Bipolar disorder, an umbrella term for a range of psychiatric conditions that include mania, depression, mania-like episodes, and mania and manias that are characterized by persistent manic or depressive symptoms, is a complex condition that includes anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, manic-depressive disorder, and depressive episodes.
Experts note that many of the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder include: mood swings and changes in behavior, irritability, irritable mood, changes in appetite, changes of thoughts, feelings, and sleeping patterns, anxiety or depression, agitation, sleep disturbances, insomnia, and daytime or nighttime changes.
These symptoms are often associated with changes in medication.