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Facts for Policymakers: Treatable Causes of Disability

Depression

Depressive disorders encompass major depression, dysthymic disorder (dysthmia may be described as a chronic milder depression), and bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is included because people with this illness have depressive episodes as well as manic episodes.
 
  • These disorders impact people across the lifespan – children, adults and the elderly.
  • Approximately 19 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. adult population have a depressive disorder in a given year.

Mood Disorders Affect Basic Functions

Mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder can affect the ability of 19 million Americans to work, parent, learn and fully participate in the community.

 
  • Nearly twice as many women (12.0 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder each year.
  • Depressive disorders may be appearing earlier in life in people born in recent decades compared to the past.
  • Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
Diagnoses are Reliable

Diagnoses of mood disorders using specific criteria are as reliable as those for general medical illnesses, according to a landmark U.S. Surgeon General’s report.

  • Since depression often strikes in the teens and mid-20’s, the disease limits educational attainment and reduces people’s ability to work.
  • Diagnoses of mood disorders using specific criteria are as reliable as those for general medical illnesses, according to a landmark U.S. Surgeon General’s report.

Next Page: Major Depression

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