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%).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.2

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.”

1American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision, DSM-!V – TR. Washington, DC 2000.

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 about every 12 minutes. – over 41,000 people a year.5
  • In comparison: homicide claims less than 16,000 lives each year, according to 2013 CDC statistics.

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.
5Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web -based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online].(2013,2011)National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC (producer).
Available from

Depression in the Workplace…
  • Causes 490 million disability days from work each year in the U.S. 6
  • Accounts for $23 billion in lost workdays each year.7
  • Takes an economic toll over $100 billion each year from U.S. business.8

6Merikangas KR et al. The Impact of Comorbidity of Mental and Physical Conditions on Role Disability in the US Adult Household Population. Arch Gen Psychiatry/vol 64 (no.10), Oct 2007.
7Greenberg P et al. The Economic Burden of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2005 and 2010). The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry/vol 76 (no. 2), Feb 2015.

Depression Internationally…
  • Affects over 300 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
  • Is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.11

9World Health Organization, Media Centre, Depression Fact Sheet, Updated February 2017.
10World Health Organization. The Global Burden of Disease: 2004 update. Available at
11World Health Organization, Media Centre, Depression Fact Sheet, Updated February 2017.

Bipolar Disorder…
  • Affects 2.6% of the U.S. adult population, or 6.3 million people.12
  • It often starts in a person’s late teen or early adult years. But children and older adults can have bipolar disorder too. The illness usually lasts a lifetime.13

12National Institute of Mental Health website, Bipolar Disorder Among Adults, Statistics. Accessed May, 2017.
13National Institute of Mental Health website, Bipolar Disorder information booklet. Accessed May, 2017.

Postpartum Depression…
  • Is reported to occur in 15% of women shortly before or any time after childbirth, but commonly begins between a week and a month after delivery.*
  • Has a higher risk of developing in women with a previous experience with depression, current depression, anxiety and low partner support.*
  • Affects not just the mother’s health, but can also interfere with her ability to care for her family, leading to impaired child development.*

*National Institute of Mental Health website, Postpartum Depression information booklet. Accessed May 2017.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)…
  • Affects about 8 million adults in a given year.*
  • Frequently occurs after violent personal assaults such as rape, mugging or domestic violence; terrorism; natural or human-caused disasters; and accidents.*
  • Affects 11 – 20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in Iraq.*
  • Affects 12 out of every 100 Veterans who served in the Gulf War.*
  • Affects 15 out of every 100 Vietnam War Veterans according to the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans have PTSD in their lifetime.*

*U. S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs website, PTSD overview. Accessed May, 2017.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder…
  • Affects 2 – 4% of the adult U.S population, or 5 – 9 million people.*
  • Has a median age of onset of 31 years.*

*Grant BF et al. Prevalence, correlates, co-morbidity, and comparative disability of DSM-IV generalized anxiety disorder in the USA: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Psychological Medicine, 2005.

  • Was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013.*
  • Results in the death of four times as many men as women, and represent 77.9% of all suicides.*
  • Is the second leading cause of death among persons aged 15 -34 years, and the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10 – 14.*
  • Every day, approximately 110 Americans take their own life, and roughly 3,500 attempt to do so.**

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. (2013,2011)National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC (producer).
Available from

**Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, NSDUH Series H-49, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4887. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and mental Health Services, 2014.
Available at