Depression rates are on the rise, according to recent data from health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). The Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index report states that diagnoses of clinical depression have increased dramatically by 33% from 2013 to 2016, leading researchers to name depression as the second most impactful condition to overall health for commercially insured Americans, second only to high blood pressure (hypertension).
Depression increases by age group
Overall, major depression affects more than 9 million privately insured people in the U.S. and the increases in depression rates were seen among every age group. However, the rates were particularly intense in younger Americans: Millennials (ages 18 to 34) had an increase of 47%, adolescent (ages 12-17) girls had an increase of 65%, and adolescent boys had an increase of 47%. This was compared to increases of 26% in the 35-49 age group and 23% in the 50-64 age group from 2013 to 2016.
Increases in depression in young people could have major impacts on future healthcare needs and emphasizes the importance of effective diagnosis and management of depression.
Women more at risk than men
The BCBS report also demonstrated that women of any age are twice as likely than men to be diagnosed with depression: 6% of all women and 3% of all men were given the diagnosis of depression, although both genders saw increases in diagnoses of 33%.
Effect of depression on general health
Depression doesn’t just affect a person’s mental health; it also impacts overall health. People diagnosed with depression are almost 30% less healthy than their peers without depression, and this translates to a loss of nearly 10 years of life. One of the key reasons for the lower overall health in people with depression is the likelihood of other serious health concerns. Eighty-five percent of people with depression have one or more chronic health conditions, and nearly 30% have four or more chronic health conditions. However, analysts noted that with the insurance claim data that was used for the report, it is unclear whether depression precedes or follows other serious health conditions.
Impact of depression on healthcare expenditures
Those with depression are significantly more likely to use healthcare services. The BCBS report found that healthcare expenditures were more than two times higher among people with depression compared to those without the condition ($10,673 compared to $4,283).
Depression rates vary by state
There was a wide variation of depression across geographic areas, although some of the differences may be due to differences in screening for depression. Depression was seen in higher rates in New England, the Pacific Northwest, and in pockets of the South and Midwest, with the highest incidence (6%) seen in Maine, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Utah. Hawaii had the lowest rate of depression at 2%.
About the data
BCBS insures more than 41 million Americans from birth to 64 years of age. The BCBS Health Index aggregates claims and other healthcare data to shed light on more than 200 health conditions.