New CDC study finds nearly 20% of U.S. adults struggle with depression

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Where you live might play a role in your mental health

A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explored depression prevalence among adults across the country. 

According to their findings, just under 20% of adults have been diagnosed with depression. On top of that, experts found that where consumers live may have an effect on mental health. Adults in certain states had a higher risk of depression than others. 

“Depression is a major contributor to mortality, morbidity, disability, and economic costs in the United States,” the researchers wrote. “Examining the geographic distribution of depression at the state and county levels can help guide state- and local-level efforts to prevent, treat, and manage depression.” 

Regional differences in mental health 

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. This survey included mental health data on adults over the age of 18 across the country.

The most important question from the survey was: “Has a doctor, nurse, or other health professional ever told you that you have a depressive disorder, including depression, major depression, dysthymia, or minor depression?” 

Ultimately, just under 20% – 18.5% – of those surveyed answered “yes” to this question. Age and state of residence were the biggest contributors to depression levels. 

The study showed that the youngest demographic, those between the ages of 18 and 24, were the most likely to report a depression diagnosis, at nearly 22%. Conversely, those over the age of 65 were the least likely to report a depression diagnosis, at just over 14%. 

From a geographic standpoint, consumers in the Appalachian region and southern Mississippi Valley region reported the highest levels of depression.

Logan County, West Virginia produced the highest risk of depression, with nearly 32% of adults struggling with their mental health. West Virginia overall had the highest rate of depression at 27.5%. On the other end of the spectrum was Hawaii, which had the lowest rates of depression -- only 12.7%. 

“There was considerable geographic variation in the prevalence of depression, with the highest state and county estimates of depression observed along the Appalachian and southern Mississippi Valley regions,” the researchers wrote. “Depression is a comorbidity for many comorbidities, including diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases. 

“The variation in depression might also reflect the influence of social determinants of health in counties and states, including economic status and differences in access to health care.

For example, adults in the Appalachian region tend to have lower incomes, higher poverty rates, and lower education levels, all of which can negatively affect health and well-being.” 

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