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How common is depression?

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In community surveys, 2% of the populations suffer from pure depression at any one time. Some have a mild form of the illness, some moderate and some severe, in roughly equal numbers. Another 8% of the population suffers from a mixture of anxiety and depression at any one time. Other people do not have symptoms severe enough to qualify for a diagnosis of either anxiety or depression but have impaired working and social lives and unexplained physical symptoms. The lifetime rate of depression is 8% for men and 12% for women, and these figures seem to be rising. This trend is worrying and has been much discussed. Depression is now more frequently diagnosed in younger people than it was previously. This change could well be a result of the increasing social fragmentation, including family breakdown, seen over recent decades.

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