depressionAddicts and alcoholics often times experience what are known as co-occurring disorders, that is mental health issues in conjunction with their addiction. If the psychiatric issue or the addiction is left untreated, recovering from either problem can be extremely challenging. One of the most common mental illnesses associated with co-occurring disorders is depression, in fact, an estimated 7.6 percent of Americans ages 12 and up experience moderate to severe depression, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Depression, while it is more common than many believe, is often left untreated; of the people experiencing severe symptoms of depression, only 35 percent reported having seen a mental health professional in the past year. Between 2009 and 2012, about 3 percent of Americans showed symptoms of severe depression, the study reports. The research showed that nearly 43 percent of people experiencing symptoms of severe depression reported having major difficulties in work, home, and social activities.

In every age group, females had higher rates of depression than males. Women in the 40-59 age bracket had the highest rate of depression – 12.3 percent. The study found that 2.6 percent of caucasians reported having severe depression, compared to slightly over 3 percent of blacks. Those who lived below the poverty line were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have depression than those at or above the poverty line.

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health lists symptoms of depression as:

  • Being persistently sad or anxious
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
  • Restlessness and irritability

“Not enough people are getting appropriate treatment for depression,” lead author Laura Pratt, with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told HealthDay. “People with severe depression should be getting psychotherapy. Some might need complicated medication regimens, which psychiatrists are better equipped to do, which makes it even more concerning that only 35 percent of people with severe depression have seen a mental health professional.”