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Depression Across The Lifespan – How Common Is It?

I did a presentation a few weeks ago about improving the identification of depression.  I used my own background of depression to illustrate some points, and I also dug up some statistics to go along with that.  As I was recalling my presentation, I decided it was worth bringing up here because the stats I found reflected depression across the lifespan.

Facts About Adults And Children With Depression

I found that depression affects about one out of every ten adults and anywhere from 2-8% of children each year.  While that could easily not be you or anyone in your family, that’s actually a fairly decent percentage.  Since depression doesn’t necessarily have to be in your family history for you to develop it, you or someone in your family could become one of those ten adults or 2-8% of children.

Suicide Statistics About Aging Adults

The most surprising and saddening statistic I found was that adults 65 and older accounted for 18% of all suicide deaths.  That’s one out of five suicides.  The national total of suicides from 2006 was 33,300, and apparently the rate is fairly stable over the years.  That comes to just under 6,000 a year for that age group.

Maybe this doesn’t surprise you, but it took me aback.  I think many people assume that some sadness and even depression is a normal part of aging, and it is not!  Depression symptoms can easily be brushed off as signs that person is getting older and crankier.  Depression can be treated no matter how old the person is — hope is not just for the young.  Please don’t overlook older people in your life if they seem like they are suffering emotionally.

Don’t Worry – Do Be Aware

Now, I don’t mean to alarm you that you should worry and fret about who has depression in your family.  It does mean you can reevaluate what you see in your family, consider if anything seems out of sorts or like a family member doesn’t seem to enjoy life anymore.

Just as you and many others would be vigilant against risks or signs of cancer or heart problems, be aware of signs that depression has settled in somewhere in your family.

Depression Across The Lifespan – How Common Is It?

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2010). Depression Across The Lifespan – How Common Is It?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Apr 2010
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