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Rate of Depression on the Rise Among Americans

First Posted: Oct 01, 2014 07:05 AM EDT

Depression among Americans has been on the rise steadily in recent decades, says a new finding.

Researchers at San Diego State University, looked at the data of over 6.9 million adolescents and adults from all over the county. A steep rise was observed in the number of Americans reporting psychosomatic symptoms of depression that included trouble sleeping and concentrating when compared to their counterparts in the 1980s.

"Previous studies found that more people have been treated for depression in recent years, but that could be due to more awareness and less stigma," said Professor Jean M Twenge. "This study shows an increase in symptoms most people don't even know are connected to depression, which suggests adolescents and adults really are suffering more."

Depression affects many Americans at various levels and is recognized as a leading cause of disability for Americans between ages 15-44, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This common disorder is highly treatable.

The current report found that, when compared to their counterparts of 1980s, the teens in the 2010s are nearly 38 percent more likely to have trouble recalling things, 74 percent more likely to have trouble sleeping and have a two-fold increased chances of approaching a profession to seek help for mental health issues.

The college students who were surveyed were 50 percent more vulnerable to feel overwhelmed and the adults were likely to have a restless sleep and lack of appetite.

"Despite all of these symptoms, people are not any more likely to say they are depressed when asked directly, again suggesting that the rise is not based on people being more willing to admit depression," said Twenge.

Despite this rise, the researchers were happy to observe a drop in the suicide rates among teens, though the decline was small when compared to the rise in depressive symptoms.

With the rise in the use of anti-depressant medications over this time period, Twenge speculates that, "Medication may have helped those with the most severe problems but has not reduced increases in other symptoms that, can still cause significant issues."

The finding was documented in the journal Social Indicators Research. 

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