Boomers Lead in Major Depression Print E-mail



Tom Murphy
RedwoodAge.com

Feeling down? A lot of boomers are these days, given high unemployment rates and those nagging middle-age diseases.

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(NAM/RA Graphic)

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found those aged 45-64 had the highest rate of "major depression" in a nationwide survey of 235,067 adults. About 4.6 percent of the boomers fit that category. That compares with just 2.8 percent of those 18-24, 3.4 percent of those 25-34, and 3.6 percent of those 35-44. 

Think that says you get more depressed as you age? Possibly. But the same study found those over 65 had the lowest rate of depression - just 1.6 percent - even though they have more chronic diseases.

The report hinted that one reason boomers have higher rates of depression might be health insurance. Those over 65 are generally on Medicare, so can easily seek help for depression, which is a very treatable disease.

"In this study, people without health insurance coverage were more likely to have current depression," said the study. "Although seeking care for depression might have grown more common, for many, lack of health insurance (or limited mental health coverage) remains a major barrier to care."

Another factor linked to depression is joblessness. The rate of major depression was just 2.0 percent among those with steady work, but 9.8 percent among the unemployed and 22.2 percent among those unable to work.

Women were more likely than men to suffer from major depression, 4.0 percent versus 2.7 percent. The researchers said they don't know why.

The release of the data coincides with a push for National Depression Screening Day on October 7. An online self-screening test is available at MentalHealthScreening.org.

Risk Factors
People were said to have "major depression" if on more than half their days they felt little interest in doing things or they felt "down, depressed or hopeless." Additionally, they had to five of eight criteria that included those two points. The survey also looked a "other" depression, which was defined as having at least two criteria, including one of the two key points.

Together, the major and other depressions were considered "current" depression.

Your general health has a lot to do with it. Depression is common among those with chronic conditions such as obesity, cancer, arthritis, diabetes and asthma.

And where you live seems to play a role. People in southeastern states had a much higher rate of current depression. The study notes that may be linked to increased rates of obesity, diabetes and other health problems in those areas. The rate of major depression peaked at 5.3 percent in Mississippi and Missouri.

The least depressed people were found in North Dakota, where just 1.5 percent of the people had major depression. Other states with low rates were Alaska, 2.3 percent; Connecticut, 2.0 percent; and Iowa and Minnesota, tied at 2.1 percent.

Whites had a rate of 3.1 percent of major depression, while blacks and Hispanics were higher at 4.0 percent.

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