In a given year, 13 to 14 million Americans—or 6.6 percent of the population—suffer from major depressive episodes, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study also found that 35 million Americans will suffer from major depression during at least one point in their lives, and that only one fifth of those who develop depression will receive adequate treatment.
The study, by Ronald Kessler and colleagues of Harvard, found that the majority of people affected by depression have severe symptoms, and that their illness takes an enormous toll on their social and professional lives. "These findings," the researchers say, "confirm that depression is an enormous societal problem both in terms of the number of people involved and in terms of clinical severity."
"The epidemiology of major depressive disorder: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R)," R. C. Kessler, P. Berglund, O. Demler, R. Jin, D. Koretz, K. R. Merikangas, A. J. Rush, E. E. Walters, and P. S. Wang, Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 289, No. 23, June 18, 2003, 3095-3105. Address: Ronald C. Kessler, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, NCS@hcp.med.harvard.edu.
"Millions of Americans suffer from major depression," news release, Harvard Medical School, June 17, 2003.