Younger Americans More Depressed?

Mental disorders have risen

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) For many people, the onset of depression comes later in life. Depression in older people is closely related to dependence and disability, and many people become depressed into their 80s and 90s.

While late-life depression has been rising for decades, new reports show that disability due to mental health increased among the younger population over the past decade.

"Depression affecting more people before elderly years."

Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reviewed National Health Interview Survey data on 312,364 adults between 18 and 64 years of age. Self-reported mental health disability increased among the non-elderly adult population from two percent (between 1997 and 1999) to 2.7 percent (between 2007 to 2009).

Findings showed that 3.2 percent of participants reported not receiving mental health care for financial reasons between 2007 and 2009, compared to 2.0 percent from 1997 to 1999. Disability due to other chronic conditions, not mental health related, actually decreased.

Dr. Mojtabai says that increase equates to nearly two million young and middle-aged adults who are disabled by mental illness. The increase is largely due to individuals who had gone through psychological distress but had not used mental health services.

“These findings highlight the need for improved access to mental health services in our communities and for better integration of these services with primary care delivery,” Dr. Mojtabai said. His team also found that prescriptions for antidepressant drugs without an accompanying psychiatric diagnosis increased more than 30 percent over the last 10 years.

The research findings will appear in the November 2011 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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Review Date: 
October 4, 2011
Last Updated:
October 5, 2011