More Americans suffer major depression, Blue Cross Blue Shield data finds
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New data from insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield says major depression among Americans is on the rise.
The report released earlier this month finds more than 9 million commercially insured people in the U.S. suffer from major depression, a 33 percent jump from 2013 through 2016.
Millennials and teenagers have experienced even faster rates of depression. According to the data, it’s up 47 percent for millennials and 63 percent for teens.
“The high rates for adolescents and millennials could have a substantial health impact for decades to come,” said Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, in a statement.
One potential factor for the quick jump in major depression rates among teens and kids is increased screen time. Last year, a study from researchers at San Diego State and Florida State universities found nearly half of teens who spent five or more hours in front of screens daily experienced thoughts of suicide or prolonged periods of hopelessness or sadness.
“In preliminary literature, high users of social media have been linked with higher rates of social isolation than low users,” Haywood added. “It is important to further explore this relationship.”
Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines on treating teen depression, including endorsing a universal screening for children ages 12 and over.
Another factor contributing to an increase in depression: other chronic health conditions. The data found 85 percent of people who reported major depression suffered from another serious chronic condition.
Wednesday night, Kate Spade’s husband and business partner, Andy Spade, shared a detailed statement with The New York Times in which he was frank about his late wife’s emotional health and their marriage in the months leading up to her death this week. Spade, who met Kate Brosnahan at Arizona State University and married her in 1994, told the newspaper that she had “sounded happy” the night before her death and that there “was no indication and no warning that she would do this. I was in complete shock.”
He also said that Kate, 55, was seeking help and took medication to treat anxiety and depression.
“Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years,” he said. “She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives. We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”
Brett Molina, USA TODAY; Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY