Only One-Third of People With Severe Depression Seek Treatment

HealthDay News — Almost 8% of Americans aged 12 and older were moderately to severely depressed during 2009 to 2012, U.S. health officials reported Wednesday.

But, only slightly more than one-third of those suffering from severe depression sought help from a mental health professional in the previous year, according to study lead author Laura Pratt, PhD.

“Not enough people are getting appropriate treatment for depression,” said Pratt, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

“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,” she said.

According to the report published in the NCHS Data Brief, 7.6% of Americans reported moderate to severe depression during the last two weeks of the study period. The researchers found that about 3% of Americans aged 12 and over had symptoms of severe depression.

Depression was more common among women aged 40 to 59, with 12% of women in this age group suffering from the condition, the findings showed. There were also racial differences in depression rates. Just over 4% of black people reported severe depression compared to 2.6% of white people, the researchers found.

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 percent of people living below the federal poverty level had depression compared with about 6% of people living at or above the poverty level, the investigators found.


Pratt LA and Brody DJ. Depression in the U.S. Household Population, 2009-2012. NCHS Data Brief, No. 172. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. December 2014.