An estimated 7.6 percent of Americans ages 12 and up are moderately to severely depressed, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Of those with severe symptoms, only 35 percent reported having contact with a mental health professional in the past year.
"Not enough people are getting appropriate treatment for depression," lead author Laura Pratt, with the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, told HealthDay.
"People with severe depression should be getting psychotherapy. Some might need complicated medication regimens, which psychiatrists are better equipped to do, which makes it even more concerning that only 35 percent of people with severe depression have seen a mental health professional."
About 3 percent of Americans had symptoms of severe depression between 2009 and 2012, the study found. Just over 3 percent of black people reported severe depression, compared with 2.6 percent of white people.
Females had higher rates of depression than males in every age group. The highest rate of depression, 12.3 percent, was found in women ages 40–59. People living below the poverty level were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have depression than those at or above the poverty level.
Almost 43 percent of people with severe depressive symptoms reported serious difficulties in work, home, and social activities.