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Depression Rates by State, According to the CDC

West Virginia tops the nation in prevalence of depression; Hawaii has the lowest rates.

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) analyzed 2020 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to estimate lifetime prevalence of depression among adults age 18 and over. The CDC looked at data at the national, state and county level.

Nationally, lifetime prevalence of having been diagnosed with depression by a healthcare professional is 18.5%. Prevalence is higher in the southern and Appalachian states. The data can be helpful to public health experts and of interest to telehealth providers as well.

The 10 states with the highest prevalence rates of depression

StatePrevalence
1West Virginia26.4%
2Kentucky24.2%
3Tennessee24.1%
4 (tie)Alabama23.5%
4 (tie)Arkansas23.5%
4 (tie)Louisiana23.5%
7Washington23.4%
8Vermont23.3%
9Utah23.1%
10Oklahoma22.9%

The 10 states with the lowest prevalence rates of depression

StatePrevalence
1Hawaii12.7%
2California14.1%
3 (tie)Illinois14.7%
3 (tie)Florida14.7%
5New Jersey15.2%
6Delaware15.6%
7Maryland15.7%
8Alaska15.9%
9South Dakota16.1%
10 (tie)Nebraska16.8%
10 (tie)New York16.8%

Depression prevalence by age, ethnicity and educational attainment

Depression rates are highest in the youngest demographic. Among adults aged 18-24, 21.5% have experienced at least one episode of depression. Prevalence is lowest among adults age 65 and older, with only 14.2% of this group reporting depression.

Women report depression at nearly twice the rate of men. Asian, non-Hispanics report dramatically lower depression rates than other ethnic groups. And those with college degrees have less depression than those with only a high school education.

The findings associated with race and educational attainment correlate with what was observed during COVID. Depression rates during the height of the pandemic were nearly three times higher than rates prior to COVID. Those with lower income, having less than $5000 in savings and having exposure to the most stressors were the most impacted.

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  1. National, State-Level, and County-Level Prevalence Estimates of Adults Aged ≥18 Years Self-Reporting a Lifetime Diagnosis of Depression — United States, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7224a1.htm#T2_down
  2. Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7489837/


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