Reading these depression statistics about how many people suffer from depression and knowing its prevalence worldwide in developed countries makes one aware and alarmed that depression is so common with such a high incidence and prevalence.


Depression is the most common mental illness affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population. According to Springer Link, it is estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world, second only to ischemic heart disease.

However, according to WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

You should know that depression is not a condition but a disease with changes in the chemical composition of the brain. It harms a person’s well-being more than chronic physical diseases such as asthma, angina, and diabetes. (WHO report)

Nearly half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an associated anxiety disorder. However, both are different.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1998, people who have suffered from depression are four times more likely to develop a heart attack than those without a history of the illness. After the first heart attack, they are at a significantly higher risk of dying from it or developing a second heart attack.

Depression is of various types defined as per the symptoms and severity. Untreated, depression can cause emotional and physical complications that can severely disable life and can also threaten it.

And to make matters worse, the incidence of depression is rising at an alarming pace and more so among young children and teens. It is as if, that these unfortunate children and adults are facing increasing problems in life, which they cannot handle.

The cause of depression is not exactly known, but certain risk factors have been identified and should be read to know how prone you can be to depression. It is easy to avoid these factors and reduce your risk of going into depression. Reading the statistics below will make you do just that.

Worldwide statistics

  • Depression is fairly common affecting more than 300 million people of all ages worldwide.
  • It is among the leading causes of disability.
  • About 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. These are worldwide figures.
  • Less than 25% of the depressed have access to treatment. This is either due to a lack of facilities or trained professionals or the social stigma of being a “mental patient” associated with visiting a psychiatrist.
  • In some countries, the figure is less than 10%.
  • More women are affected than men. The figures among women (12%) are twice that of men (6.6%).
  • Women between the ages of 24 to 45 years are most commonly affected due to their inability to express anger.
  • More than one million preschoolers are clinically depressed and on antidepressants. This figure is rising at an astounding rate of 23% per year.

Statistics for the United Kingdom

  • In the U.K., the most common mental illness is depression.
  • 19% of the people surveyed had been diagnosed with this mental disorder.
  • About 4% of children between the ages of 4 years and 16 years are affected by depression.
  • Between 8-12% of England’s population experiences a bout of depression in any one year.
  • The number of antidepressant prescriptions dispensed in England has doubled over the past decade.
  • Here are the figures: In 2006 a little over 31 million antidepressant prescriptions were dispensed, while in 2016 the number rose to 64.7 million.
  • According to the 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), the rate of people with suicidal thoughts increased from 3.8 percent in 2000 to 5.4 percent in 2014; the reason for the increase is the tripled risk of suicidal thoughts in men aged 55–64.

United States figures

  • Depressive disorders, including bipolar, affect about 18.8 million of the American adult population, of age 18 years and older. This constitutes about 10% of the American population.
  • Stats for most developed countries show that about 15% of the population suffers from depression.
  • 92% of the African Americans do not take help for their depression.
  • 15% of the depressed commit suicide.
  • At the rate its incidence is rising, depression will be the second largest killer after heart disease.
  • Depression is the largest contributory factor among medical disorders for absentees from work.
  • Major depression is the leading cause of disability. Disability is the inability of a person to engage independently in some or all aspects of day to day life.
  • In otherwise healthy people, the risk of depression is 10% to 25% in women and 5% to 12% in men.
  • In people who have a chronic illness, such as diabetes, kidney disease, arthritis, lupus, etc, the risk of depression is significantly higher at 25% to 33%.

Canada figures

In Canada, it is estimated that about eight percent of adults will suffer from major depression at some time in their life.

According to the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey (Mental Health), 11% of teenagers and young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 years showed signs of depression at some time in their life and less than half of them sought professional help for the illness.

The study also reveals that approximately 234,000 of these young people who developed depression also had suicidal thoughts at some point in time.

This is the age group with the highest incidence of depression in Canada. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among these 15 to 24-year-olds.

Another alarming fact is that suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year-olds and 16% among 25-44 year old.

Again, suicidal thoughts were experienced more by young women than young men. But, the mortality rate from suicide among men is four times more than the rate among women.

Another fact that came to light was that these young people are most likely to seek support for their problems from friends and family, rather than from a professional.

According to the Canadian Medical Health Association, by the age of 40, about 50% of the Canadian population will have or have had a mental illness.

Australia figures

  • According to a 2016 statistical report, one million people in Australia suffer from depression
  • In any given year, 10,000 young Australians battle with depression
  • Postnatal depression affects 14% of first-time mothers
  • The prevalence of depression in an Australian sample group increased in the ten years to 2008 from 6.8% to 10.3% (3)
  • Depression affects one in seven people at some point in their lives
  • Approximately 2000 Australians die from suicide every year. Men are 4 times more likely to die by suicide than women
  • Depression will be second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death and disability within the next 20 years.