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CHICAGO (CBS Local) – A study by health insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield has found that the number of Americans being diagnosed with severe depression has jumped by a staggering 33 percent in recent years.

The Details:

  • A study has found that major depression cases have risen by 33 percent since 2013
  • Teens and millennials are showing the largest jump in diagnoses
  • Doctors are looking at increased social media and electronics use as a cause

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Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), who insures over 106 million people, reports that major depression cases skyrocketed from 2013 to 2016. The jump is reportedly even more serious among children and young adults, with depression diagnoses rising by 47 percent in millennials and 63 percent in adolescents.

“The high rates for adolescents and millennials could have a substantial health impact for decades to come,” BCBSA chief medical officer Trent Haywood said in a press release.

The organization’s Health of America Report adds that more than 9 million Americans with health insurance have been diagnosed with major depression. Women were twice as likely to be diagnosed with major depression than men. The study found that depression was likely linked to other issues that the patient was dealing with, as 85 percent of people diagnosed were also suffering from another chronic condition too.

Physicians noted that the increasing use of electronics and social media may be playing a major role in the growing number of depression cases, especially in younger patients.

“Increased use of electronics, video games more commonly in boys and social media/texting more commonly in girls, can lead to increased conflict both within the home and with peers,” Dr. Karyn Horowitz explained.

“High users of social media have been linked with higher rates of social isolation than low users,” Haywood added.

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BCBSA found that the highest rates of depression cases were being found in New England, with Rhode Island and Maine registering the highest rates in the area. The lowest rates of depression in the U.S. were found in Hawaii, followed by Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Wyoming.

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