Depression Has Spiked By 33% In the Last Five Years, a New Report Says

new report from health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield reveals that major depression affects more than 9 million people in the United States. Diagnoses of clinical depression have risen since 2013, Jamie Ducharme writes on TIME.

"Major depression is a complex condition that has a substantial impact on overall health and wellness. It is crucial to effectively address and manage this condition to improve the health of all Americans," Blue Cross Blue Shield writes.

According to the report, major depression is the second most impactful condition on overall health for commercially insured Americans, second to hypertension.

“Some of the literature is already starting to predict that by 2030, depression will be the number-one cause for loss of longevity or life,” says Dr. Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSA.

Major depression diagnoses surged, especially among adolescents and millennials.

Diagnosis rates rose by 33% from 2013 through 2016 and climbed fastest among adolescents (up 63%) and millennials (up 47%).

Women are diagnosed with major depression at double the rate of men (6% and 3%).

“In preliminary literature, high users of social media have been linked with higher rates of social isolation than low users,” Haywood added. “It is important to further explore this relationship.”  

Specific parts of the U.S. (Maine, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Utah) have more depression cases than others.

A survey conducted by Cigna and Ipsos found that many, many Americans feel alone and lonely. Their survey of over 20,000 Americans ages 18 years and older revealed that 46% felt alone either sometimes or always.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.  

“They’re intertwined,” Haywood says.

“You might start with a condition and then go on to have depression, or you might start with depression and go on to have a chronic condition. It’s bi-directional.”

The report, titled Major Depression: The Impact on Overall Health, is based on medical claims data from the BCBS Health Index, a first-of-its-kind measurement of health for nearly every county in America.

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