Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Depression Rates Surge By 33 Percent Since 2013, Study Finds

Depression Rates Surge By 33 Percent Since 2013, Study Finds

Those diagnosed with major depression are almost 30 percent less healthy on average than those not diagnosed with major depression, according to the BCBS Health Index measurement.

In the Philadelphia area, the depression diagnosis rate for IBC members of all ages and both genders was 4.2 percent, somewhat lower than the 4.4 percent average among all Blue Cross Blue Shield members.

Diagnosis for major depression have increased dramatically across the US, especially in teens and young adults and varying from state to state, according to a study of insurance claims by provider Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Eighty-five percent of people diagnosed with major depression suffered from one or more additional health concerns, and nearly 30 percent had four or more other conditions.

Women are diagnosed with major depression at double the rate of men (6 percent and 3 percent, respectively). Among adolescents, it increased 47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls. The rates vary geographically from state to state, with Rhode Island having the highest rate at 6.4 percent, while Hawaii has the lowest - 2.1 percent.

During that period, depression among the network's adolescents rose 63 percent; among millennials (ages 18 to 34), 47 percent. People diagnosed with depression were twice as likely to suffer from one or more other chronic illnesses and seven times as likely to have alcohol or substance use disorder compared with those without the diagnosis, according to the report.

"Major depression diagnoses are growing quickly, especially for adolescents and millennials", said Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSA.

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Americans' mental health has been in something of a tailspin in recent years, with more and more people reporting that they are anxious, depressed and even suicidal.

Depression is the second most impactful condition on overall health for commercially insured Americans, behind only high blood pressure.

Rates of depression varied significantly from state to state in the U.S., hitting the Midwest and Northeast particularly hard, according to the latest data from health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Eighty-five percent were diagnosed with depression along with one or more additional health conditions. "Further education and research are needed to identify methods for both physicians and patients to effectively treat major depression and begin a path to recovery and better overall health". It appears the use of social media and video games could be a factor.

"It is possible that the increased rates of depression in adolescents are related to a combination of increased electronics use and sleep disruptions in already vulnerable individuals", Dr. Karyn Horowitz, a psychiatrist affiliated with Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island, said in the statement. "It is important to further explore this relationship".

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