Home Disorders Statistics Major Depression Among Adults - Statistics and Prevalence 

Major Depression Among Adults - Statistics and Prevalence


Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO; 2010), major depression also carries the heaviest burden of disability among mental and behavioral disorders. Specifically, major depression accounts for:

  1. 3.7% of all U.S. disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)
  2. 8.3% of all U.S. years lived with disability (YLDs)

The 12-month prevalence data for major depressive episode presented here are from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Based mainly on the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), in the NSDUH study a major depressive episode is defined as

  1. A period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.
  2. Unlike the definition in the DSM-IV, no exclusions were made for a major depressive episode caused by medical illness, bereavement, or substance use disorders.

Major Depression Among Adults Statistics

In 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.

  1. The leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.3.
  2. MDD affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7%of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
  3. While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5 years old.
  4. More prevalent in women than in men

Sometimes crying or laughing
are the only options left,
and laughing feels better right now.

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