Depression is a common mental health condition that causes symptoms of profound sadness and loneliness. People of any age and from any socioeconomic background may experience depression at some point in their lives.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects more than 264 million people worldwide.

This article will discuss how depression affects different groups of people, which other conditions it can occur with, and its economic impact on society as a whole.

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Although anyone can experience depression, some individuals and groups are more likely to develop the condition than others. Depression may also affect people of different demographics in different ways.

The following sections will look at these groups in more detail.

Children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that 3.2% of children aged 3⁠–17 years have depression.

Children with depression may also experience additional mental health conditions. For example, according to the CDC, 73.8% of children aged 3⁠–17 years who had depression also had anxiety, while 47.2% also had behavioral problems.

Adults

In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that approximately 7.1% of adults in the United States had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the space of a year.

Among the adults who responded to the survey, 13.1% were aged 18–25 years, meaning that this age group was most at risk of experiencing depression.

The NSDUH also noted that 11.3% of adults with mixed ethnic backgrounds experienced at least one major depressive episode during 2017. This was higher than in people of other ethnicities who responded to the survey.

Males

The NSDUH survey from 2017 noted that 5.3% of males had experienced at least one major depressive episode.

Additionally, a study from 2015 found that in 2010–2013, 3.5% of adult U.S. males reported having daily feelings of depression, while less than half of them sought treatment for their conditions.

Females

The NSDUH survey from 2017 noted that 8.7% of females had experienced at least one major depressive episode.

Statistically, females are twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of depression than males. Research indicates that female hormone fluctuations may trigger depression, but further studies are required to confirm this.

Females are also at risk of depression after pregnancy, with 1 in 9 experiencing postpartum depression.

It is also important to note that environmental factors, such as socioeconomic disadvantage and gender-based violence, can also influence depression in females.

People who have certain health conditions or illnesses may be more likely to experience depression than those who do not.

If someone has received a poor prognosis or they have painful or difficult symptoms, this may affect their mood over a period of time, resulting in depression.

The following sections will look at some health conditions that may occur alongside depression.

Cancer

The American Cancer Society report that around 1 in 4 people who have cancer will also have major or clinical depression.

People who have experienced depression before may be prone to developing it again after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

Coronary heart disease

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute note that adults with a depressive disorder were 64% more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

Also, people with coronary heart disease who also have depression were 59% more likely to experience an adverse cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack.

Substance abuse disorder

The National Institute for Mental Health state that, in 2014, 7.9 million people in the U.S. had a substance abuse disorder as well as a mental health condition, such as depression.

Learn more about the other effects of substance abuse here.

Stroke

Research from the American Heart Association found that approximately 1 in 3 people who survive a stroke will also experience depression. The likelihood of someone developing depression after a stroke is highest in the first year.

HIV

In 2019, a study found that 39% of people with HIV also had depression. This may be due to the symptoms of HIV or the historical stigma associated with it.

Parkinson’s disease

The Parkinson’s Foundation estimate that at least 50% of people with Parkinson’s disease experience some form of depression.

The symptoms of depression can have a greater effect on someone’s health status than the actual symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Eating disorders

According to one 2015 study, 71% of people with an eating disorder also had a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety.

The most common type of mood disorder reported was generalized anxiety disorder, which was more common in people with binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa.

Diabetes

Researchers in 2014 found that up to a third of people with diabetes also had depression. Also, both conditions may compound the other, making symptoms worse.

Healthcare professionals may not notice depression in a person with diabetes, so it is important that a person talks to their doctor if they are experiencing any symptoms of depression.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

A 2018 study focusing on women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) found that around 40% of them also experienced depression.

Healthcare professionals may overlook depression in females with PCOS, so it is important that anyone with this condition speaks to their doctor if they are experiencing a persistent low mood.

Fibromyalgia

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) report that 20% of people with fibromyalgia also have depression or an anxiety disorder.

Suicide is very commonly associated with depression. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education report that 90% of people who die by suicide have an existing mental health condition or substance abuse disorder.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death among people aged 10–34 years.

People feeling depressed and experiencing suicidal thoughts should try to contact their doctor or a suicide helpline as soon as possible.

There are many treatments available for depression. The type of treatment a person receives can depend on their age, any additional health conditions they have, and the severity of their condition.

The sections below will look at some treatment statistics by demographic.

Children

According to the CDC, 78.1% of children aged 3–17 years who had depression received treatment for it.

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that children aged 7–12 years with depression had a 66% rate of remission when undergoing family-based interpersonal psychotherapy.

Adults

Research from 2020 found that antidepressants helped relieve symptoms in 40–60% of people with depression. The study also suggested that antidepressants prevented around a third of people from experiencing depression again in the future.

An NSDUH survey found that around 65% of people who experienced at least one major depressive episode in a year received both medication and therapy for the condition.

Males

A 2015 study found that 33% of males who had daily feelings of anxiety or depression took medication for those feelings, whereas around 25.7% spoke to a mental health professional.

Researchers in 2020 discovered that males who completed at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week reduced their risk of developing depression.

Also, increased duration and intensity of physical activity further reduced the likelihood of depression in males.

Females

According to the WHO, females are more likely to receive a prescription for psychotropic medication for common mental health conditions than males.

They also note that females are more likely than males to seek help for common mental health conditions from their primary care physician.

The ADAA report that more than 2 million people over the age of 65 have depression.

Among other factors, depression in older adults may be the result of illness, disability, or an increased dependence on others.

Doctors frequently miss depression in people of this age group, as their focus tends to be more on physical health than psychological health.

Research from the APA suggests that the economic cost of major depressive disorder is approximately $210.5 billion per year, with an estimated 6–7% of full-time workers in the U.S. experiencing a major depressive disorder in 2015.

The APA also state that depression can result in:

  • reduced educational achievement
  • lower earning potential
  • increased teenage pregnancy
  • higher unemployment
  • increased work disability

Depression can affect anyone. However, certain groups of people may be more likely to experience the condition.

Females are more likely to experience depression than males. Adults aged 18–25 years are most likely to have at least one major depressive episode.

Treatment options have varying rates of success. A person seeking treatment for depression should talk to their doctor about which treatment option is best for them.

People who experience suicidal thoughts alongside their depression should seek help from their doctor as soon as possible.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can call 800-799-4889.

Click here for more links and local resources.