(HealthDay News) — Almost 8% of Americans aged ≥12 experienced moderate to severe symptoms of depression during 2009–2012, U.S. health officials reported Wednesday, with only about one-third of those suffering from severe depressive symptoms seeking help from a mental health professional in the previous year.
According to a December data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), 7.6% of Americans reported moderate to severe symptoms of depression during the last two weeks of the study period. The researchers found that about 3% of Americans aged ≥12 had severe symptoms of depression.
Depression was more common among women aged 40–59, with over 12% of women in this age group suffering from depressive symptoms. There were also racial differences in depression rates. Just over 4% of black people reported severe symptoms of depression compared to 2.6 % of white people. The study authors also found that depression was much more common among the poor. People living below the poverty level were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have depression than those at or above the poverty level. More than 15% of people living below the federal poverty level had depression compared with 6.2% of people living at or above the poverty level.
Only about one-third of those with severe symptoms of depression sought help from a mental health professional in the previous year, said study lead author Laura Pratt, PhD “Not enough people are getting appropriate treatment for depression,” Pratt, an epidemiologist at the NCHS, told HealthDay. “People with severe depression should be getting psychotherapy. Some might need complicated medication regimens, which psychiatrists are better equipped to do, which makes it even more concerning that only 35% of people with severe depression have seen a mental health professional.”