Depression Facts

Depression is a serious medical condition that is associated with symptoms such as melancholy, loss of pleasure, loss of energy, difficulty in concentrating, and suicidal thoughts.

Depression is both a brain disorder and a state of mind. The brain is unique—it is the only organ whose function we consciously experience because the brain is the organ of the mind.
Illnesses of the mind-brain affect tens of millions of people in the United States. Depression is by far the most prevalent, representing 99% of all mind-brain illness. (Schizophrenia and major psychotic illness represent the remaining 1%). The umbrella of depression encompasses Major Depressive Disorder and its related mood disorders including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder and suicide.

HDRF chooses not to use the term “mental illness” to refer to disorders of the mind and brain. The term conjures up negative images in the popular imagination, propagates stigma, and is not scientifically accurate. Therefore, at HDRF we always refer to this area as “mind-brain illness.”

Did you know that…

Depression in the United States …

  • Affects over 18 million adults (one in ten) in any given year.3
  • Is the leading cause of disability for ages 15-44.4
  • Is the primary reason why someone dies of suicide every 15 minutes. – over 38,000 people a year.5
  • In comparison: 15,000 deaths are due to homicide each year

1American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision, DSM-!V – TR. Washington, DC 2000.
2DSM – V
3Kessler RC et al. Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of Twelve-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62:617-627.

Depression in the Workplace…
  • Causes 387 million disability days from work each year in the U.S. [6]
  • Accounts for $12 billion in lost workdays each year.[7]
  • Takes an economic toll of $70 billion each year from U.S. business.[8]

6Chicago Tribune
7Wall Street Journal, 2001.

Depression Internationally…
  • Affects over 350 million people worldwide, regardless of culture, age, gender, religion, race or economic status.9
  • Is one of the most debilitating conditions on the world, with severe depression rated in the same disability category as terminal stage cancer.10
  • Will be the leading global health burden by 2030.

10World Health Organization. The Global Burden of Disease: 2004 update. Available at :

Bipolar Disorder…
  • Affects approximately 5.7 million adults in the U.S.*
  • Has a median age of onset of 25 years.*
Postpartum Depression…
  • Is reported to occur in 15-84% of women within the first days after giving birth.*
  • Is a cross-cultural phenomenon and is reported in many widely differing cultures.*
  • Has a higher risk of developing in women with a previous depression, current depression, previous premenstrual dysphoria, anxiety and low partner support.*
  • Has a well-established relationship between maternal depression and impaired child development.*
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)…
  • Affects approximately 7.7 million adults in the U.S.*
  • Has a median age onset of 23 years, although it can develop at any age, including childhood.*
  • Frequently occurs after violent personal assaults such as rape, mugging or domestic violence; terrorism; natural or human-caused disasters; and accidents.*
  • Is anticipated to affect as many as 35% of armed forces returning from Iraq.*
  • Every day, on average, 18 American veterans commit suicide.*
Generalized Anxiety Disorder…
  • Affects approximately 6.8 million adults in the U.S.*
  • Has a median age of onset of 31 years.*
  • Is the fourth-leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65.*
  • Results in the death of four times as many men as women.*
  • Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression, if one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent.*
  • Every day, approximately 90 Americans take their own life, and 2,300 attempt to do so.*