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More than 12 MILLION American women suffer from depression - double the rate of men, new CDC figures reveal
- More than 20 percent of women and 10 percent of men in the US suffer from the mood disorder, according to a new CDC report
- The condition disrupts the day-to-day activities of 80 percent of those it plagues, impairing depressed men and women equally
- Rates of depression from this large survey remained consistent between 2013 and 2016, and echoed figures from previous years
More than 12.5 million women live with depression in the US – double the number of men who suffer from the condition – according to the latest figures from the CDC.
More than eight percent of Americans reported that they experienced symptoms of depression between 2013 and 2016.
The chronic mental health issue can raise risks of other health concerns, including obesity and death.
The latest figures from the CDC are consistent with their previous data, suggesting that the state of mental healthcare in the US has become stagnant.
Women are twice as likely to experience depression at any age as men are, according to the CDC's latest data
For some depression may be fleeting or even seasonal, while for others it can be a lifelong battle best treated by neurochemical-altering medications.
But year after year, the data remains the same: twice as many women report suffering some form of depression as do men.
Previous research from the Mayo Clinic offers the natural hormonal fluctuations that come with a woman's puberty, reproductive years, pregnancies and eventual menopause as an explanation for the higher risk of falling into a slump.
However other experts caution that depression should not be considered a 'normal' part of womanhood, and still others posit that women may simply be more ready to acknowledge their depression than men are.
The CDC's latest does not attempt to explain why these disparities exist, but some of its raw numbers may offer unintentional insights.
The eight percent of adults over 20 who said they were depressed – including 5.5 percent of men and 10.4 percent of women – broke down into even categories when asked how they experienced their mood disorders.
About 80 percent of both men and women said that depression had some effect on their abilities to function on a day-to-day basis, whether that meant that they struggled with social interactions, work or even completing chores at home.
'The most interesting thing was that it affects men and women equally, about four out of five had these difficulties, even though the prevalence was much lower among men than among women, we found that impairment was the same for both of them,' says the report's lead author Debra Brody.
Some studies have shown that depression manifests differently among men and women, with men suffering drawn out, persistent struggles with the condition, and women experiencing more episodic bouts of it, which may seem more intense.
But the new report's findings may suggest that while its presentation may be different, the extent to which the mood disorder disrupts life may be similar for all genders.
Depressed men and women struggle equally with their day-to-day activities, the data showed
'Maybe people think of women being more depressed, having more symptoms and being more affected, but in fact it seems that both [sexes] are affected – in terms of daily activities – similarly,' Brody says.
Women and men do seem to experience depression at different ages.
Men are most likely to feel helplessly downtrodden later in life, after the age of 60, while depression is most common for women between 40 and 59, though these rates were not 'statistically different.'
However, other research has shown that young people – especially young women – are particularly at risk for depression as well as other mental health issues.
Similarly, the differences in experience of low moods were about equal across races, except among Asian people, who reported much lower rates of depression than other races, a fact that Brody says is consistent with other research, but difficult to interpret.
Aside from gender, rates of depression varied most closely along the lines of peoples' incomes, with the highest income groups having the highest rates of depression.
'It's not something new, but it could be related to treatment or access to care,' Brody suggests.
Overall, that report 'tells you in some ways how difficult it is for people to live with depression and symptoms of depression,' she says.