A new report from the Gallup Institute found the lifetime rate of clinical depression has reached a brand-new high, and young adults aged 18 to 29 have been impacted the most.
The report found that young adults have the fastest rising rates of diagnosed depression compared to any other generation. In 2017, an estimated 13 percent of young adults were being treated for depression. In 2023, that number has nearly doubled to 24.6 percent.
At this rate, the study’s authors predict that one-third of Gen Z and millennials will be diagnosed with clinical depression at some point in their life. Those aged 18 to 29 (34.3 percent) and 30 to 44 (34.9 percent) have significantly greater depression diagnosis rates in their lifetime than those older than 44.
It’s not just young adults who are feeling more depressed. Twenty-nine percent of all adults living in the U.S. have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their life — a rate almost 10 percent higher than what was reported back in 2015. Additionally, the number of Americans being treated for depression increased to 17.8 percent, according to the latest poll. Cases among women, and Black and Hispanic adults have also nearly doubled since 2017.
Clinical depression had been slowly rising for years, but the Covid-19 pandemic skyrocketed depression rates. Not only did the virus kill millions of people, but it also worsened the public’s mental health due to fears of infection, psychological exhaustion (especially among first responders) and disruptions in mental health services. Plus, quarantining and lockdown led to increased feelings of social isolation and loneliness.
Even as things have “returned to normal” since the pandemic ended, the study authors predict we’ll be seeing an increase in longer-term, chronic rates of depression for years to come.