It's a Sad, Sad World

Dec. 14, 1992

Depression is on the rise, and the young are the most vulnerable

If the world has been getting you down lately, you're not alone. According to a major international study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the younger you are, the greater the chance that you have suffered from clinical depression sometime in your life. The investigation combined 12 local and regional studies made during the 1980s in such places as the U.S., Taiwan, Munich, Paris, Beirut and Christchurch, New Zealand. In virtually every case, people born before 1905 had a lower rate of depression than those born between 1905 and 1914, who in turn had a lower rate than those born between 1915 and 1924, and so on.

The depression rates vary widely from place to place, and there are age groups in which the trend jumps upward or even temporarily downward. In Beirut, for example, periods of especially severe political unrest were paralleled by a sharp rise in depression. Overall, though, the trend is steadily upward in every age group. The cause? Researchers suggest it might have to do with the breakdown of families, or increased drug use, or the fact that more people are living in cities. The truth is they simply don't know, which is depressing in itself.

Copyright (c) TIME Magazine, 1995 TIME Inc. Magazine Company; (c) 1995 Compact Publishing, Inc.

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