Health

More Americans suffer major depression, Blue Cross Blue Shield data finds

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New data from insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield says major depression among Americans is on the rise.

The report released Thursday finds more than 9 million commercially insured people in the U.S. suffer from major depression, a 33% jump from 2013 through 2016.

Millennials and teenagers have experienced even faster rates of depression. According to the data, it’s up 47% for millennials and 63% for teens.

 “The high rates for adolescents and millennials could have a substantial health impact for decades to come,” said Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, in a statement.

One potential factor for the quick jump in major depression rates among teens and kids is increased screen time. Last year, a study from researchers at San Diego State and Florida State universities found nearly half of teens who spent five or more hours in front of screens daily experienced thoughts of suicide or prolonged periods of hopelessness or sadness. 

“In preliminary literature, high users of social media have been linked with higher rates of social isolation than low users,” Haywood added. “It is important to further explore this relationship.”

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines on treating teen depression, including endorsing a universal screening for children ages 12 and over.

Another factor contributing to an increase in depression: other chronic health conditions. The data found 85% of people who reported major depression suffered from another serious chronic condition.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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