Major depressive disorder (MDD) was identified in 21% of adults in the United States during their lifetimes and 10% over 12 months, according to data published Feb. 14 from the 2012-2013 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III (NESARC-III).

Research shows that the prevalence of depression in adolescents and adults in the United States has increased over the last 25 years. However, epidemiologic data on MDD prevalence since the 2013 publication of the DSM-5 have been limited, wrote Deborah S. Hasin, PhD , of Columbia University, New York, and her colleagues.

In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry , Dr. Hasin and her colleagues reviewed data from 36,309 adult participants in the NESARC-III who reflected DSM-5 criteria. Major depressive disorder was defined as at least 2 weeks of persistent depressed mood, anhedonia, or hopelessness reported by the individual or others observing the individual.

Overall, the 12-month and lifetime prevalences of MDD were 10.4% and 20.6%, respectively. Factors associated with a more likely 12-month diagnosis of MDD included younger age (18-29 years) and lower income (less than $19,999 per year). In addition, MDD was significantly less likely in men than it was in women (odds ratio, 0.5). Compared with the likelihood among white adults, MDD was less likely among adults who were African American (OR, 0.6), Asian/Pacific Islander (OR, 0.6), and Hispanic (OR, 0.7).

Generalized anxiety disorder was the most common comorbidity associated with MDD (adjusted OR, 5.7). Any drug disorder was three times more likely in MDD patients (aOR, 3.0), and alcohol use disorder was nearly twice as likely (aOR, 1.8). Approximately 70% of patients with lifetime MDD received some treatment. But patients with substance use disorders and depression are less likely to receive treatment for major depression disorder. “Therefore, clinician education and training in dual-disorder screening and treatment should be prioritized,” Dr. Hasin and her colleagues wrote.

The study is the first to include data on two new major depression specifiers from the DSM-5, the researchers noted. “That almost three-quarters of those with MDD had the anxious/distressed specifier confirms clinical observation and research,” they said. “In patient samples, the anxious/distressed specifier predicts a poor course of MDD.”

The study was limited by several factors, including its cross-sectional design and the potentially inconsistent differentiation of MDD from normal bereavement in patients who had been diagnosed with MDD shortly after the death of a loved one, the researchers said. However, the findings provide the first nationally representative information on MDD since the advent of the DSM-5 and highlight the high prevalence of MDD in the U.S. population and the need for further intervention, they said.

The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose. The NESARC-III was supported by several entities, including the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

SOURCE: Hasin D et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 Feb 14. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.4602 .


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