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Leading Cause Of Depression In America

Easy Money: A Series Of False Signals

What is depression? – Helen M. Farrell

The first phase of the Great Depression was a massive boom during the Roaring 20s, which inevitably burst in 1929. In order to understand this crash, we first have to understand the boom and how it happened.

For various reasons, the government in the 1920s created monetary policies that ballooned the quantity of money and credit in the economy. A great boom resulted, followed soon after by a painful day of reckoning. None of Americas depressions prior to 1929, however, lasted more than four years and most of them were over in two. The Great Depression lasted for a dozen years because the government compounded its monetary errors with a series of harmful interventions. But how exactly did the government inflate the economy, and how did that cause the boom and inevitable bust?

Depression Rates Are Higher In Females And Gender Minority Teens

While depression can affect teens of any sex and gender identity, a study published by the JAMA Network found that by 15 years old, females were twice as likely to have experienced episodic depression than males.

When comparing male and female depression rates, depression continues to present at a higher rate in females than males from the teen years into adulthood.

Also, according to the , risk factors leading to depression are highest among adolescents and young adults who identify with a gender minority, such as transgender, genderqueer, and nonbinary.

Its More Common Than You Might Think

Everyone goes through a rough patch or feels listless on occasion. But major depression is a leading cause of disability in the United States, and teens are becoming the most likely group to screen for symptoms of this mental health condition.

Data shows that depression affects high numbers of young people:

  • Data from the 2016 National Survey of Childrens Health showed that 3.2% of children ages 3 to 17 had a depression diagnosis. The frequency of depression diagnosis tends to increase as children enter their teen years.
  • Around 3.2 million teens ages 12 to 17 had one major depressive episode in 2017.
  • According to a 2021 Mental Health America report, severe major depression has increased in youth to 9.7%. This is an increase from 9.2% in 2020.

The 2021 MHA report also states that youth ages 11 to 17 were the most likely age group to score in the moderate-to-severe depression categories when screened for mental health conditions.

The symptoms of depression might be a bit different in teens and adults. You can read about the symptoms of depression in teens here.

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Statistical Methods And Measurement Caveats

Diagnostic Assessment:


  • The entirety of NSDUH respondents for the major depressive episode estimates is the civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 12-17 and 18 years old or older residing within the United States.
  • The survey covers residents of households and persons in non-institutional group quarters .
  • The survey does not cover persons who, for the entire year, had no fixed address were on active military duty or who resided in institutional group quarters .
  • Some adults and adolescents in these excluded categories may have had a major depressive episode in the past year, but they are not accounted for in the NSDUH major depressive episode estimates.
  • Sex was recorded by the interviewer.

Interview Response and Completion:

  • In 2019, 35.1% of the selected NSDUH sample did not complete the interview.
  • Reasons for non-response to interviewing include: refusal to participate respondent unavailable or no one at home and other reasons such as physical/mental incompetence or language barriers .
  • Adults and adolescents with major depressive episode may disproportionately fall into these non-response categories. While NSDUH weighting includes non-response adjustments to reduce bias, these adjustments may not fully account for differential non-response by mental illness status.

Please see the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Methodological Summary and Definitions report for further information on how these data were collected and calculated.

The Top 10 Depression Stats Everyone Should Know

Santa Barbara Mental Health Descriptions and Statistics Guide
  • In 2020, 27.8% of American adults claimed to be struggling with the symptoms of depression during the pandemic.
  • Over 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide.
  • The US is third worldwide in relation to the overall burden of depression.
  • About 15% of adults will experience depression at least once in their lives.
  • 5% of Americans suffer from seasonal depression.
  • 2.8% of Americans suffer from bipolar disorder.
  • About 50% of new mothers diagnosed with postpartum depression experienced some of the symptoms during pregnancy.
  • Treatment for depression proved effective in up to 80% of the cases within 46 weeks.
  • Almost 800,000 people all over the world commit suicide every year.
  • US employers lose about $100 billion every year due to depression.

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Formidable Obstacles To Mental Health Care

Challenges to addressing depression at a clinical and community level in less developed countries are numerous and vastranging from inadequate funding and personnel for diagnosis and treatment to stigma and the simple lack of understanding that mental illness is, in fact, a distinct medical condition.


The stigma of mental illness is perhaps the biggest challenge to confronting depression in developing countries. Stigma facilitates a lack of awareness of the condition as an illness category and causes many people to delay seeking care.15 It is a strong contributor to underreporting of the disease and a barrier to using the available cost-effective interventions.

Lack of Treatment Access and Recognition of the Disease

Treatment for depression is often lacking, especially in developing countries: The World Health Organization reports that fewer than one in every four people affected by depression worldwide have access to effective treatments.16 Adding to the problem is that people with depression who seek help most often complain of nonspecific physical symptoms such individuals receive a correct diagnosis in less than one-quarter of cases and typically are treated with medicines of doubtful efficacy.17

Lack of Trained Mental Health Personnel

Culturally Appropriate Screening

Integration of Mental Health Care in Primary Health Care, by Income Group

Are There Risk Factors For Depression

While genetics is believed to confer some susceptibility, there is no single gene or set of genes implicated so far, it appears that a very large number of geneslikely modifiable by diet or behavioreach contributes a very tiny degree of vulnerability that could precipitate depression under conditions of stress. People can also be at risk of depression because of their personality attributes, particularly if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative. Of the Big Five personality dimensions, the one most consistently associated with depression susceptibility is the trait of neuroticism. It denotes the degree to which the negative affect system is readily activated. People high in trait neuroticism are inclined to find experiences distressing, to worry, and to doubt themselves disproportionate to the circumstances they are in. In addition, studies indicate that women are at especially high risk for depression after divorce and men are at high risk following following financial, occupational, or legal problems.

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Causes Of The Great Depression

verifiedBrian Duignan

The Great Depression of the late 1920s and 30s remains the longest and most severe economic downturn in modern history. Lasting almost 10 years and affecting nearly every country in the world, it was marked by steep declines in industrial production and in prices , mass unemployment, banking panics, and sharp increases in rates of poverty and homelessness. In the United States, where the effects of the depression were generally worst, between 1929 and 1933 industrial production fell nearly 47 percent, gross domestic product declined by 30 percent, and unemployment reached more than 20 percent. By comparison, during the Great Recession of 200709, the second largest economic downturn in U.S. history, GDP declined by 4.3 percent, and unemployment reached slightly less than 10 percent.

There is no consensus among economists and historians regarding the exact causes of the Great Depression. However, many scholars agree that at least the following four factors played a role.

Depression Is Different From Sadness Or Grief/bereavement

New treatments for severe depression

The death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for a person to endure. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations. Those experiencing loss often might describe themselves as being depressed.

But being sad is not the same as having depression. The grieving process is natural and unique to each individual and shares some of the same features of depression. Both grief and depression may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities. They are also different in important ways:

  • In grief, painful feelings come in waves, often intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. In major depression, mood and/or interest are decreased for most of two weeks.
  • In grief, self-esteem is usually maintained. In major depression, feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.
  • In grief, thoughts of death may surface when thinking of or fantasizing about joining the deceased loved one. In major depression, thoughts are focused on ending ones life due to feeling worthless or undeserving of living or being unable to cope with the pain of depression.

Grief and depression can co-exist For some people, the death of a loved one, losing a job or being a victim of a physical assault or a major disaster can lead to depression. When grief and depression co-occur, the grief is more severe and lasts longer than grief without depression.

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Teens With Two Or More Racial Or Ethnic Identities Report The Highest Rates Of Depression

Your teen years are often called the coming-of-age era for a reason. Youre discovering, questioning, and deciding many aspects of your identity, including what your cultural, racial, and ethnic identity means in your life.

This, coupled with societal pressures and prejudices, can reasonably leave you feeling stressed and emotionally shaken up.

Teens ages 12 to 17 years old with more than one racial identity are the most at-risk racial or ethnic group to report a major depressive episode, according to data published by

Global Comparison Of Severity

The Great Depression began in the United States of America and quickly spread worldwide. It had severe effects in countries both rich and poor. Personal income, consumption, industrial output, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%, and in some countries rose as high as 33%.

Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by approximately 60%. Facing plummeting demand with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as grain farming, mining and logging, as well as construction, suffered the most.

Most economies started to recover by 193334. However, in the U.S. and some others the negative economic impact often lasted until the beginning of World War II, when war industries stimulated recovery.

There is little agreement on what caused the Great Depression, and the topic has become highly politicized. At the time the great majority of economists around the world recommended the “orthodox” solution of cutting government spending and raising taxes. However, British economist John Maynard Keynes advocated large-scale government deficit spending to make up for the failure of private investment. No major nation adopted his policies in the 1930s.

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Anxiety And Depression In Children

It is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety. About half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Teens: Depression is not your fault or caused by something you did wrong.

Children with depression may display these symptoms:

  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
  • Change in eating habits
  • Withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression and anxiety disorders can often be treated the same way and at the same time. Like anxiety disorders, depression can be treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy and antidepressants. Learn more about treatment.


How Is Depression Treated

Understanding the causes of depression can help end stigma

Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. Between 80% and 90% percent of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment. Almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.

Before a diagnosis or treatment, a health professional should conduct a thorough diagnostic evaluation, including an interview and a physical examination. In some cases, a blood test might be done to make sure the depression is not due to a medical condition like a thyroid problem or a vitamin deficiency . The evaluation will identify specific symptoms and explore medical and family histories as well as cultural and environmental factors with the goal of arriving at a diagnosis and planning a course of action.

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Do Adverse Experiences Always Result In Depression

Research documents that there is a strong relationship between adverse experience in childhoodsuch as verbal or physical abuse or household dysfunction caused by a mentally ill parentand the lifetime risk of depression. Studies show that verbal abuse more than doubles the lifetime risk of depression. Adverse experiences are a significant source of stress.

But whether they summon resources for successful coping or lead to despair depends in part on the situation and in part on the person. A child facing verbally or physically abusive treatment at home or school who has no means of escaping continuing injury is at elevated risk for developing depression. Situations may not be subject to changebut attitudes, interpretation, and meaning of experience are always under individual control and can confer resistance to depression and other disorders..

What Are The Symptoms Of Depression

Depression can affect your emotions, mind and body. Depression symptoms include:

  • Feeling very sad, hopeless or worried.
  • Not enjoying things that used to give you joy.
  • Being easily irritated or frustrated.
  • Eating too much or too little.
  • Changes in how much you sleep.
  • Having a difficult time concentrating or remembering things.
  • Experiencing physical problems like headache, stomachache or sexual dysfunction.
  • Thinking about hurting or killing yourself.

If you or someone you know has thoughts of hurting themselves, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255. This national network of local crisis centers provides free, private emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Lgbtq+ Teens Are At Greater Risk For Depression

Recent research shows that sexual identity can impact rates of depression among teens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are at a higher risk for depression, suicide, and substance use.

But factors like supportive parents and an accepting atmosphere at school can also decrease the risk of depression in LGBTQ+ adolescents.

There Are Many Types Of Depression

Depression: The leading cause of disability worldwide.

If you feel depressed, it does not automatically mean you have a depressive disorder. Depression may be a symptom of another physical or psychological medical condition.

Depression could also be a natural response to a major stressor and does not indicate that youll need to prepare to live with recurring depression.

Some types of depression include:

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Depression And The Elderly

  • 7 million adults aged 65 years and older are affected by depression.
  • More than 1 in 6 Americans working full-time or part-time report assisting with the care of an elderly or disabled family member, relative, or friend. A survey of these adult caregivers found that 40% to 70% of them have clinically significant symptoms of depression.

Risk Factors For Depression

Depression can affect anyoneeven a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances.

Several factors can play a role in depression:

  • Biochemistry: Differences in certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to symptoms of depression.
  • Genetics: Depression can run in families. For example, if one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70 percent chance of having the illness sometime in life.
  • Personality: People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience depression.
  • Environmental factors: Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to depression.

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Can Certain Drugs Cause Depression

In certain people, drugs may lead to depression. For example, medications such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and the acne drug isotretinoin have sometimes been linked with depression, especially in older people. Likewise, medications such as corticosteroids, opioids , and anticholinergics taken to relieve stomach cramping can sometimes cause changes and fluctuations in mood. Even blood pressure medications called beta-blockers have been linked to depression.

The Artificial Boom Of The Roaring 20s

Causes of the Great Depression

Now that you can see how manipulations of interest rates and money supply can affect the economy, we can take a look at the boom and bust business cycle leading up to the Great Depression.

The spectacular crash of 1929 followed five years of significant credit expansion by the Federal Reserve System under the Coolidge Administration. In 1924, after a sharp decline in business, the Reserve banks suddenly created some $500 million in new credit, which led to a bank credit expansion of over $4 billion in less than one year.

While the immediate effects of this new powerful expansion of the nations money and credit were seemingly beneficial, initiating a new economic boom and effacing a 1924 decline, the ultimate outcome was most disastrous. It was the beginning of a monetary policy that led to the stock market crash in 1929 and the following depression.

Signifiant credit expansion under the Coolidge Administration was the beginning of a monetary policy that led to the crash in 1929.

The Federal Reserve System launched a further burst of inflation in 1927, the result being that total currency outside banks plus demand and time deposits in the United States increased from $44.51 billion at the end of June, 1924, to $55.17 billion in 1929. The volume of farm and urban mortgages expanded from $16.8 billion in 1921 to $27.1 billion in 1929.

The flood of easy money drove interest rates down, pushed the stock market to dizzy heights, and thus gave birth to the Roaring Twenties.

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