The Rising Rates of Depression and Suicide Around the World

If you, your teen, or another member of your family has been diagnosed with depression, you’re not alone. A recent report from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the rates of suicide have increased 60% over the past 50 years.

The Rising Rates of Depression and Suicide

Surprisingly, this is not only for industrialized nations, but for developing countries as well. There seems to be a relationship between the growing urbanization of the world and the increase in mental illnesses among the world population. Perhaps it is the inaccessible beaches and parks that are common to cities. Perhaps it is then the distance from nature, from others, and from oneself. In a city, adults and adolescents tend to stay focused on their individual lives. They are lost in their smart phones, and having their attention shift from one piece of technology to another. There’s no real connection that might be satisfying and psychologically nourishing.

And, it’s true that in more heavily populated countries, such as Japan, India, and the United States the rates of depression have risen. For instance, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a common mental illness in the United States. About 9 percent of American adults suffer from depression. And globally, five percent of the population across the planet suffers from depression, according to the WHO. In fact, about 70 percent of all antidepressants sold in the world are sold in the United States. And according to a 2011 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of antidepressant use in the United States rose by 400 percent between 1988 and 2008.

Increase in Depression

Yet, it’s not just the United States, there has been an increase in depression in countries like Japan and India as well. In Japan, for instance, the number of diagnoses for depression has doubled between 1999 and 2008. And according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates, which is 21 people per 100,000, while the suicide rate for the United States is at 12 per 100,000. The World Health Organization expects depression to be the second most prevalent medical condition in the world by 2020.

Furthermore, teen depression treatment continues to be a common mental illness therapy. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately, 8% of teens meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Across the length of adolescence, one in five teens have experienced depression at some point in their teenage years. NAMI also points out that in clinical settings, such as group homes, hospitals, or rehabilitative centers, as many as 28 percent of teens experience depression.


A more recent study showed that adolescents between the ages of 14 to 18 tended to have symptoms that were typical of adult depression. The symptoms of depression in adults include depressed mood, sleep disturbance, thinking difficulties, weight/appetite disturbance, worthlessness or guilt, loss of energy, and suicidal ideation. Among adolescents in the study, many of them reported experiencing these same symptoms.

The good news about all of this is that depression is treatable. With the right medication combined with therapy, an individual’s mood, whether teen or adult, can stabilize and, over time, he or she can return to a healthy level of functioning at school, home, and work. It’s important to know is that depression is best treated with a combination of both medication and therapy. Medication alone is not a thorough treatment plan. Therapy can facilitate a teen’s understanding for the need of medication treatment. And it can even improve the effectiveness of that medication. Both treatment forms are necessary for a safe, effective recovery from depression.


Although there is  rising rates of depression and suicide, it is doesn’t have to take over the world, or your world for that matter. Once you suspect that you or your teen is suffering from a depressed mood, seek a mental health professional for an assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.



Luhrmann, T.M. (March 24, 2014). “Is The World More Depressed?” New York Times. Retrieved on March 25, 2014 from