In a new report from medical insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield, researchers found that rates of depression were rising among people of all age groups, but most notably inflating in teens and young adults.
What state you live in also affect your chance of being depressed. In Hawaii, only 2.1% of people have been diagnosed, which is only a third of the record 6.4% in Vermont.
If you think these numbers are too shocking to believe, the researchers agree with you! They acknowledge the actual rates of depression are likely higher than their findings have shown. The study only applied to people who were covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, leaving people without health insurance, or who weren't on a commercial plan, out of the picture. What's more, many people who suffer from symptoms of depression don't seek any assistance and their condition remains undiagnosed.
Dr. Laurel Williams, chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital, had some ideas about what might be causing the increase in depressed individuals:
Many people are worried about how busy they are. There's a lack of community. There's the amount of time that we spend in front of screens and not in front of other people. If you don't have a community to reach out to, then your hopelessness doesn't have any place to go.
And who feels they're being rushed into the future and spends the most time on their smart phones? Young people.
But before we all go blaming social media, Williams want us to remember there are other factors at work:
I wouldn't say that social media is responsible for a rise in depression — more the being rushed and lack of connections that we have in the structure of how we live lives now.
For some kids, video game use can become an addiction leading to social isolation, poor school performance, and impaired sleep, It is possible that the increased rates of depression in adolescents is related to a combination of increased electronics use and sleep disruptions in already vulnerable individuals.
Something must be done, however! If rates continue to rise at this pace, many more people could be affected.
If you suspect you may be suffering from symptoms of depression, check this list and talk to a doctor if necessary:
- Experiencing traumatic or stressful events, such as physical or sexual abuse, the death of a loved one, or financial problems
- Going through a major life change‚ even if it was planned
- Having a medical problem, such as cancer, stroke, or chronic pain
- Taking certain medications
- Using alcohol or drugs
- Having blood relatives who have had depression
Dr. Williams is hoping more parents will read this list and take their children to the doctor—perhaps the most troubling statistic of all is the rising number of very young children suffering from depression:
A lot of parents will say to me, 'Well, she seemed fine to me and she was going to school. A lot of people go through the motions.