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Rise in U.S. Depression Rates Over Past Decade

Big increase in demand for services expected if rate continues

THURSDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Rates of depression across almost all socio-demographic groups have risen in the United States over the past 10 years, with overall prevalence of major depression rising from 3.33 percent of U.S. adults in 1991-1992 to 7.06 percent in 2001-2002, according to a study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Bridget F. Grant, Ph.D., of the U.S. National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues analyzed data from two representative surveys of the U.S. population, each with more than 42,000 respondents, using the same data collection methods and criteria but conducted a decade apart.

As well as the overall prevalence rate, the data revealed that there were statistically significant increases in depression rates for all age groups and for white, black and Hispanic respondents. During the same time frame, there was an increase in substance abuse disorders, but this could not be linked with depression rates in any group except black men aged 18 to 29 years.

"It appears that one or more general factors had an impact on rates of major depression among most subgroups of the population. Since such a rapid change cannot be explained by genetic causes, attention in future research should be drawn to environmental changes that have taken place during the past decade," the authors conclude.

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