In a 2020 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nearly 1 in 5 or 18 percent of American adults reported an occupational diagnosis of depression, which is more prevalent in some states than others. The states with the highest rates of depression dropped in the Appalachian region, and Hawaii and California ranked as the states where depression is least prevalent.
The study suggests that depression may be related to factors other than mental health, such as physical health, social determinants and economic issues.
The news: The study found that nationwide, depression was most prominent among women, young adults aged 18 to 24, and adults with lower education levels. Since a previous study in 2015-2019, rates of depression have increased most in adolescents (12-17 years) and young adults.
The regions with the highest percentages of adults with depression were in the Appalachian and southern Mississippi regions, and the regions with the lowest percentages were in parts of the upper Midwest, California and Hawaii.
Areas of the country with the highest rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease occurred at the highest rates in the Appalachian region, which also ranked first in the nation for depression. These data suggest that geographic variation in depression prevalence may in part reflect patterns in other chronic diseases.
The country’s depression rate coincides with social determinants of health, such as access to health care and economic status, according to the study. For example, adults in the Appalachian region tend to have lower incomes, higher poverty rates and lower educational attainments, all of which can negatively impact health and well-being, the CDC said.
Why study depression? Research has found that depression can go much deeper than mental well-being. A study published in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry linked depression to a range of physical symptoms, such as chronic pain in all parts of the body, gastrointestinal problems and sleep disturbances. Healthline reported that depression could cause a knock-on effect, potentially impacting the heart, kidneys, nervous system and immune system.
Aside from the mental and physical symptoms of the condition, the strain of depression on the body can also lead to financial problems. The CDC has stated that depression is a leading cause of mortality, morbidity, disability, and economic costs in the United States.
Examining the pervasiveness of depression at the state and county levels can assist local governments in efforts to prevent, treat and manage depression, the CDC said. These data points can help pinpoint which areas are struggling the most with depression so government agencies can see where to offer evidence-based interventions and health care resources in places with the greatest gaps or inequities.
US states ranked by percentage of adults diagnosed with depression (lowest to highest):
Florida and Illinois: 14.7%.
New Jersey: 15.2%.
South Dakota: 16.1%.
Nebraska and New York: 16.8%.
Georgia and Virginia: 17.2%.
Arizona and Iowa: 17.4%.
Nevada and New Mexico: 17.6%.
Connecticut and Texas: 17.7%.
Kansas and North Dakota: 19.2%.
Minnesota, District of Columbia and Wisconsin: 19.8%.
North Carolina: 20.8%.
Rhode Island: 21.1%.
South Carolina: 21.4%.
New Hampshire: 21.5%.
Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana: 23.5%.
West Virginia: 26.4%.
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