Latest Depression Statistics from The Lancet: Depression Ranks as a Top Disability Problem Worldwide

Latest Depression Statistics from The Lancet: Depression Ranks as a Top Disability Problem WorldwideNew depression statistics show depression symptoms and back pain as being the top two health issues causing disability among adults worldwide. Among teens, depression symptoms now surpass asthma as the top disability problem in the US and Canada, while the top contributor worldwide is iron deficiency. These depression statistics, published in The Lancet with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, indicate a very high level of burden from mental health issues, especially depression symptoms, around the globe and reflect the need for policymakers’ attention.

Growing Concern for Teenage Depression: Statistics Raise Red Flags

The study, which was led by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Seattle, shows an increasing contribution of mental and behavioral disorders, such as anxiety and depression symptoms, to deterioration in the health-related quality of life among teenagers over the last two decades.[1] The depression statistics are part of a huge study that utilized hundreds of investigators to quantify how much particular disorders deprive people of healthy years of life. They used a metric called ‘years lived with disabilities’ which was developed at Harvard University in 1990 and is now used by researchers worldwide as a way to calculate years of ‘healthy’ life lost by virtue of being in states of poor health or disability. 

Depression Statistics Among Adults

In the recent study, investigators looked at 289 different diseases and injuries, including anxiety disorders, migraines, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and falls. Overall, the depression statistics rank depression symptoms as the number two worldwide contributor of ‘years lived with disabilities’, affecting 4% of the global population. Only back pain, which affects almost 10% of the global population, beats depression symptoms in terms of the disability it causes. Among 10 to 14 year olds in the US and Canada, the depression statistics are showing worsening trends: depression symptoms now surpass asthma to claim the number one spot, while the top contributor worldwide for this age group is iron deficiency. The collective number of ‘years lost to disability’ grew by 30% over the last two decades for this age group, with years lost to disability from depression, statistics show, is up by 13%.

For people of all ages, other mental health disorders besides depression symptoms were also among the top 20 disability contributors. The disease burden from anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder ranked 7, 16, and 18, respectively, among the world population, and in the US and Canada ranked even higher at 5, 10, and 18, respectively.

The depression statistics reveal increased disability from depression symptoms

While the depression statistics showing a rise in disability from depression symptoms is likely due to better diagnosis in some regions,”… at the same time, the magnitude of the rise in some areas should draw policymakers attention, as should the very high level of the burden from mental health problems across regions,” says study author Mohsen Naghavi, MD, MPH, PhD, an Associate Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

“When you are seeing more years lived with disability from depression and anxiety than you are from most injuries, chronic diseases and infectious diseases, then you need to start thinking about addressing them by borrowing from lessons we have learned from those other areas or by innovating new tools,” Dr. Naghavi said in a recent article in Nature regarding the study’s depression statistics.[2]

Overcoming Depression Symptoms

Obviously, these latest depression statistics indicate better care for depression symptoms and other mental health disorders is needed. Integrative physicians and other trained natural medicine providers effectively treat patients with depression symptoms more holistically. These healthcare providers focus on improving quality of life and decreasing disability caused by depression symptoms by uncovering and addressing the fundamental underlying causes, like thyroid and adrenal dysfunction and nutritional deficiencies. To find a qualified holistic practitioner or integrative physician in your area, search our Directory Listing Database. For more information on research-based guidelines on how to beat the depression statistics and treat depression symptoms naturally, see our comprehensive guide, Natural Remedies for Depression: Beating Depression without Drugs.


[1] The Lancet. 380; 9859: 2163 – 2196.

[2] Grigoryev Y. Nature. 18 Dec 2012.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

View all posts by UHN Staff

Comments Comments Policy

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Enter Your Login Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

×