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Depression rates rising fast for young U.S. teens

It’s enough to give you the blues: Depression is on the rise in the U.S., and young teens are most susceptible.

That’s the eye-opening finding of a new Columbia University study, said to be the first to identify trends in depression by gender, income and education. Researchers analyzed depression rates of Americans age 12 and up over a 10-year period ending in 2015.

In general, the rate rose from 6.6% to 7.3%. The rise among those ages 12 to 17 increased from 8.7% in 2005 to 12.7% in 2015.

The study is led by mental health expert Renee Goodwin of the Department of Epidemiology at Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia and based on findings from 607,520 respondents to the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey includes people ages 12 and up.

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Major depression is associated with “significant disability, morbidity and mortality,” authors note in the journal Psychological Medicine.

“Depression appears to be increasing among Americans overall, and especially among youth,” Goodwin said. “Because depression impacts a significant percentage of the U.S. population and has serious individual and societal consequences, it is important to understand whether and how the prevalence of depression has changed over time so that trends can inform public health and outreach efforts.”

Authors added that depression “frequently remains undiagnosed, yet it is among the most treatable mental disorders.”

Further research into understanding the “macro level, micro level, and individual factors that are contributing to the increase in depression, including factors specific to demographic subgroups, would help to direct public health prevention and intervention efforts,” researchers concluded.

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