Veterans & Major Depressive Episode: New Data
An estimated 9.3 percent of veterans age 21 to 39—312,000 persons—experienced at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year, according to a recent report from SAMHSA.
Major Depressive Episode and Treatment for Depression among Veterans Aged 21 to 39, from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), provides data on prevalence of past year MDE, levels of impairment, average number of days “down,” and past-year treatment for the problem.
The rate of past-year MDE was higher among veterans age 21 to 25 and those age 26 to 29 (12.1 and 13.4 percent, respectively) than among veterans age 30 to 34 and those age 35 to 39 (7.5 and 8.3 percent, respectively) (see chart).
Female veterans were twice as likely as their male counterparts to have experienced past year MDE (16.6 versus 8.0 percent).
For more information on women veterans and active duty military members, see SAMHSA News, “Women in the Military: Overcoming Challenges.”
Almost all (99.2 percent) veterans age 21 to 39 with past-year MDE reported experiencing some level of resulting impairment in one or more of the role domains of home management, work, close relationships with others, and social life.
More than half (51.7 percent) reported severe impairment in at least one of these role domains, and nearly one-quarter (23.5 percent) reported very severe impairment in at least one of the domains.
Severe or very severe impairment in role functioning was reported by 55.4 percent of these veterans for home management, 41.3 percent for ability to work, 50.4 percent for close relationships with others, and 57.7 percent for social life.
Overall, those veterans with past-year MDE who reported any impairment in any domain of role functioning were unable to carry out normal activities on an average of 57.4 days in the past year. Those who reported a very severe impairment were unable to carry out normal activities on an average of 120.0 days in the past year.
More than half (59.6 percent) of veterans age 21 to 39 who experienced past-year MDE received treatment for depression in the past year.
Among those who received treatment for depression, 74.0 percent saw or talked to a medical doctor or other health professional about depression and used prescription medication for depression, 20.9 percent saw or talked to a medical doctor or other health professional about depression but did not use a prescription medication for depression.
In addition, 5.1 percent used prescription medication for depression but did not see or talk with a medical doctor or other professional about depression in the past year.
All findings are based on combined 2004 to 2007 NSDUH data.
NSDUH defines major depressive episode (MDE) as a period of 2 weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.
To download the full report in PDF format, visit SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies Web site at www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k8/veteransDepressed/veteransDepressed.pdf.
For more information on veterans’ issues, read SAMHSA News online, September/October 2008.
Source: SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies. National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Major Depressive Episode and Treatment for Depression among Veterans Aged 21 to 39. November 6, 2008.