October 1st, 2010
10:49 AM ET

CDC: Nearly 1 in 10 U.S. adults depressed

Nine percent of U.S. adults have at least some symptoms of depression, and people in certain states are more likely to be depressed than those in others, according to the results of a nationwide survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mississippi had the highest depression rate in the nation, with 14.8 percent of residents reporting two or more symptoms of the condition, such as feeling hopeless, taking little interest or pleasure in everyday activities, and having trouble concentrating. Health.com: How to recognize the symptoms of depression

Other states at the top of the list included West Virginia (14.3 percent), Alabama (13 percent), Oklahoma (11.3 percent), Tennessee (11 percent), and Louisiana (10.8 percent), according to the survey, which was conducted in 2006 and 2008.  See state map.

North Dakota, with 4.8 percent, had the lowest rate of depression symptoms in the nation.  See the report.

Many of the states with high depression rates also have above-average rates of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions—which may not be a coincidence, says Lela McKnight-Eily, a clinical psychologist and epidemiologist at the CDC.

"Depression can both precipitate and exacerbate the symptoms of a chronic disease," McKnight-Eily says. "For example, if someone is depressed and they have diabetes, they may be less likely to stick to their treatment regimen in terms of their insulin and eating appropriately. Those things are definitely linked."

Relatively high poverty levels and lack of access to mental health care may also have contributed to the depression rates in some Southeastern states, she adds.

Overall, 3.4 percent of the survey respondents met the criteria for clinical depression, which is defined as experiencing five or more depressive symptoms on most days of the week.

The rates of clinical depression varied widely according to life circumstances. People who were divorced (6.6 percent) or never married (4.1 percent) were more likely to be clinically depressed than married people (2.2 percent), for instance.

Not surprisingly—given the economic nosedive that was under way in 2008—depression rates also appeared to be linked to job status.

Roughly 10 percent of unemployed people and 22 percent of people who were disabled or otherwise unable to work met the criteria for clinical depression, compared with just 2 percent of those who had a job. And the depression rate was roughly twice as high among people without health insurance as it was among insured people. Health.com: Depression in the workplace: Don't ask, don't tell?

"Depression is common," McKnight-Eily says. "But more importantly, it's very treatable. Seeking out the care of a health professional is really important, because life quality can improve with effective treatment."

October 7 is National Depression Screening Day. The CDC urges people who suspect they may be depressed to take an online self-assessment at mentalhealthscreening.org.

soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. Tony in St. Louis

    I guess if everyday the media tells us how sad and angry we are everyday, these results should be expected. Maybe peolple should stop watching the news.

    October 2, 2010 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Sean Z.

    In my opinion the rate of depressed people in the U.S is even HIGHER than 1 out of 10, mainly because many people in America are simply fake and afraid to admit that they have depression. The stigma of not being a "man" by expressing your true feelings is in my opinion false, where it should be a REAL man or woman admits that they have a problem and are comfortable with sharing their true emotions. The high depression rate in the U.S also lies in that people begin taking a certain medication for some minor ailment, and then in the long run they develop depression due to addiction to the medication or from a side effect.

    October 2, 2010 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Sarah

    I remember when I was 18 and being so depressed for no reason, I slightly disagree with the studies because Americans dont just face depression because of their jobs or bad health, it is because of the way we live our lives.. And add on no family support on top of it (despite having one) was just an icing. Majority of the americans go through this, we have no strong support (in most of the cases) which makes us depressed, or makes our depression worse...

    October 2, 2010 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jennifer Norris

    American culture has no soul, it is all about making money, control, and greed. It is depressing. The current divisive political climate is depressing, as are the wars. Americans have a lot to be depressed about, there is a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.

    October 2, 2010 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. suzanne

    Isn't the internet age so awesome that people can be rude and insult others while hiding behind a computer screen!? I personally am disgusted by the comments left here. Depression is a serious disease, just as diabetes and cancer. If untreated, it can be fatal. Clinical depression runs through my family and no, we don't live in the south and we are not overweight. There is a lack of seratonin in the brain which causes it. My father committed suicide and my brother has attempted suicide twice. I think a large part of the problem is ignorance in the community when it comes to mental illness. People are labeled 'crazy' and therefore, are ashamed to seek help. Its called mental ILLNESS because its an illness.

    October 2, 2010 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Dee

    Maybe we should just admit to ourselves that depression is a normal part of the human experience and get over it. Other countries don't have this "everybody must be happy, all the time" obsession.

    October 3, 2010 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LEB

      No one is claiming that everyone should be happy all the time. Experiencing "down moods" sometimes is normal. Experiencing down moods MOST of the time, or down moods so severe you can't function as a human being is NOT normal. People who have never been depressed or been around someone who is depressed often pooh-pooh it as imaginary. I assure you, it's not just "in your head."

      October 3, 2010 at 03:43 | Report abuse |
  7. Dee

    I'm not saying there's no such thing as clinical depression. But why should it be news that people are depressed as if we should be surprised it occurs.

    October 3, 2010 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. skumpi

    Abnormal neurotransmitter levels totally change your perception of the world and yourself. This is why people take illicit drugs, to (erroneously) rebalance their dopamine, serotonin, or GABA levels to where they feel best. There are many kinds of depression and thus many kinds of treatments. Sadly, the science of consciousness and emotions is much more difficult than the science of say, bones or bacteria. Nevertheless, tremendous strides have been made in the last 30 years. What is needed is better objective diagnostic tools (scans, EEGs, level testing, etc) that can identify exactly where and how the brain is behaving abnormally and indicate precise treatment. Because mental disorders affect behavior and personality, people are more likely to judge them harshly and blame them (as many above are) rather than responding with compassion and care the way a person who has a disease of the body is treated. The good news is that technology is coming online now that permits very precise diagnosis and targetted treatment for most mental disorders (the rEEG). The illness is bad enough; why put on another layer of suffering? If you've been there, you'd know how isolating and soul-robbing it can be. If you haven't, educate yourself and get involved in helping rather than judging.

    October 3, 2010 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Belinda

    One thing I notice is that most of the states with lower levels of depression tend to be states in which people are more active in outdoor athletics (Colorado, Oregon, Washington), and where there is a lot of promotion for outdoor activities such as cycling, running, etc. These tend to be states where neighborhood parks, bicycle lanes, and bike paths are very common. Another observation is that the states that have the worst rates tend to be states with a lower education level and income bracket.

    I personally tend to be prone to depression, as are other members of my family. I've been on antidepressants before for it. In my case, I've found that if I'm active and exercise outdoors regularly, that does far more for preventing depressive symptoms and resolving existing depression than medication ever did. When injury has limited my activity levels, the depression tends to return (so I'm at risk right now, having broken my ribs a week ago in a car accident).

    Of course, when depressed, it's hard to find the energy to do anything. The hardest step is to get out the door. I've learned to force myself to get out riding my bicycle in these situations.

    October 3, 2010 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Laurie

    " Seeking out the care of a health professional is really important, because life quality can improve with effective treatment." HA. My drepression stems from the fact that my family's medical bills are mounting up from my husband's disability and trying surgery after surgery to fix it. We have no savings left. I can't afford to see another "health professional".

    October 3, 2010 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Hannah

    The place in the world where people are the happiest? Denmark and Finland. Where families are given all the support, mothers with 1 year maternity leave, government run day care, of course health care and much more. Taxes are high, but people get a lot for it and salaries are more even. I don't know how young families survive in America with both parents working, sometimes two jobs; what time is left for the children? In America we are sold the American dream and when we can't achieve it, we feel like we have failed, but only a few will succeed in becoming rich and the rest are groveling to make ends meet.

    October 3, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. rhea

    I’m not surprised at all, considering today’s economy and situation. However, I believe that everybody goes through this process, it just need support from family and friends, self-acceptance and a professional help if necessary.

    We help Americans find jobs and prosperity in Asia. Visit http://www.pathtoasia.com for details.

    October 3, 2010 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. MJB

    I'm surprised its onlu 1 out of 10 whos depressed. Alot of us have lost much of our savings, no job. Can't even find a 1/2 day job for mimimal wage anywhere. Seems our illegals have gotton the $7.00 ones that legal residents should have and will work for $ 2:00. Those aren't even around either. Now what. Hummm! didn't think of prostitution..

    October 3, 2010 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. sam

    with over 500 ALCOHOLIC Beverages sold each year in AMERICA I wonder WHY ????? hmmmmmmmm Let me think .......
    Oh i know what causes this PASSIVE SMOKE RIGHT ?

    October 3, 2010 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. sam

    WIth over 500 Billion Alcoholic Beverages CONSUMED each year just in the USA,The Trillion Pills being Taken I wonder why ...Oh i know its PASSIVE SMOKE DOING THIS TOO RIGHT ?

    October 3, 2010 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Stephanie

    I think we have anger management issues, not depression.........lol.

    October 3, 2010 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Ted

    ..Yes ..Tell 20 Million Americans Out of Work "Things are Fine" and 100,000s of small businesses like ours , "Things are or will be fine" especially since we are just barley hanging on and the Up coming Obama Tax Increses, ObamaCare costs, EPA and IRS running our companies will completely destroy 50% of American Companies and Jobs....Ditch this Commie Muslim President and Cohorts and flunky Dems, it may already be too late...Pray that God will Deliver America.

    October 3, 2010 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Bob-O

    Psychologists already know the underlying cause of depression. If you hold these 3 beliefs, you will be depressed:
    1) "No matter what I do, things never work out for me" (Personal)
    2) "Things are bad in every area of my life" (Pervasive)
    3) "It will always be this way" (Permanent)
    If you believe all three of these then it's guaranteed you will be depressed. If you refuse to believe at least one of these, it will break up the depression.

    October 3, 2010 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. k

    Depression is a normal part of life, I trust that 1 person who says he is depressed over the 9 who say they are not

    October 3, 2010 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. VegasRage

    You know whats really depressing? The cost of anti-depressants.

    October 4, 2010 at 02:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Rick McDaniel

    That number would, I think, be grossly understated.

    October 4, 2010 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Jing Hu

    I would also like to add though that, in our modern society people who have depression DO NOT SEEK help. I think it is due to feeling self concius and would make people think that the indivisual is weird or "unstable emotionally" and it is considered not normal.

    I know in many parts of the world my argument is true. Especially in Asian countries where depressec indivisual would feel ashamed and critized if found seeking mental health. I just hope more people would take actions and try to help themselvs instead of being afraid of what others think!

    October 4, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. silverivy

    To all the ignorant people posting here, depression is not about being sad or down. It's a feeling of severe detachment and intense mental pain, like a toxic fog that you can't escape. I have, thank God, a fantastic low-pressure life in a beautiful region, buy I occasionally suffer from periods of clinical depression that were most severe about 2 years ago. I have no "intellectual deficiency" as one person said (I went to Harvard), I have tremendous willpower and work ethic) no question of "just deal with it" or "get over it and move on") and it is not a question of being whiny, unaware of the good things in my life, etc. It *is* an issue of chemicals in the brain and a very real condition that I pray you never have to experience. Things that help me: sunshine, walking, not too much computer time, healthy foods, changing your current mental activity, and being with friends. Please, think before you speak, posters.

    October 4, 2010 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
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