Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a mental health disorder that negatively affects how a person feels, thinks, and acts. The Global Health Data Exchange estimates that 251-310 million people worldwide suffer from depression. While depression is common, it is also, fortunately, treatable.
The symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe and include the following:
Risk factors for depression include: biochemistry (differences in chemicals in the brain), genetics (depression can be heriditary), perrsonality (those who are generally pessimistic or have low self-esteen are more likely to experience depression), and environment (those who are exposed to violence, abuse, neglect or poverty are more likely to expereince depression).
For depression to be diagnosed, symptoms must last at least two weeks. Some medical conditions, such as thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies, can mimic symptoms of depression and need to be ruled out. Luckily, depression is one of the most treatable mental illnesses, and those who have been diagnosed have multiple options depending on their diagnosis:
Depression affects about 1 in 15 adults in any given year, and 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some time in their life. An Our World In Data study estimates about 3.4% (2-6% when including the margin of error) of the global population has depression. This is about 264 million people worldwide. According to WHO estimates, the ten countries with the highest prevalence of depression are:
While countries with high rates of depression appear on almost every continent, it seems the Pacific Islands of Oceania include many of the least-depressed places on Earth:
While the numbers listed above (and below) are valuable and vital, it is important to keep in mind that the true rates are likely much higher, especially in less developed countries. Depression is much more likely to be diagnosed in highly developed countries, whose more robust health care infrastructures are far better equipped to identify and treat mental illnesses.
Therefore, less developed countries do not necessarily have less depression—rather, their treatment of mental illnesses often takes a back seat to broader concerns such as hunger, disease, and sanitation. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that 76–85% of people suffering from mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries lack access to the necessary treatment. Moreover, even in developed nations, many cases of mental illness go undiagnosed and unreported because the patients are either ashamed of their illness or unaware that it's a medically treatable condition.
Depression rates are rising around the world, but it's likely that this rise is due at least in part to a good thing: More patients than ever before are seeking and receiving treatment for mental illness rather than going undiagnosed. In many countries, including the United States, the stigma surrounding mental illnesses is gradually decreasing. This enables a more open discussion of mental illness and makes people more likely to seek help when they need it.
A nation’s culture can also have a significant impact on both the mental health of its population and the availability of mental health treatment services. Additionally, certain symptoms of depression are more common in some societies than others due to cultural factors. For example, while depression is relatively uncommon in Japan, suicide rates are high for children and teens ages 10-19. This is most likely due to pressure to do well in school and work and conform to group norms.
An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had a least one major depressive episode in 2017. Among those diagnosed with depression, about 65% received treatment. About 50% of U.S. adults diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety. Oregon, West Virginia, and Maine have the highest depression rates.
Ukraine has 6.3% of its population suffering from depression, which puts the country at the top of the world list for depression rates.
The lowest depression rates occur in the Solomon Islands where 2.9% of the population has depression.
Based on depression rates, Ukraine has the worst mental health in the world. It has a national 6.3% rate of depression, which is the highest in the world.