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With more than 300 million people affected globally, depression takes a considerable toll on all of us. The costs to individuals, families and productivity are significant. Risk of suicide to depression is overwhelming. And rates of depression only climbing higher, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A depressive disorder affects our bodies, moods and thoughts. It is not the same as being unhappy or in a blue mood. We can feel tired and slowed down, restless and irritable. We can't just "pull ourselves together" and get better. The symptoms make ordinary daily activities seem impossible and feelings of hopelessness may last for an extended time. 

Today, depression is a leading cause of disability per the Global Burden of Disease, a long-term, ongoing study by The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation quantifying and comparing global health loss from hundreds of sources. By 2030, depression threatens to become the single greatest contributor to the global burden of disease, per the World Health Organization.

The staggering impact of depression is due in part to how much is still unknown — what causes depression, what is happening in our brains and bodies when we experience depression and what treatments will work in what situations. Simply, the existing work and resources to understand and treat depression are falling devastatingly short of addressing the problem. This is why we started the Depression Grand Challenge in 2015. We aim to bridge this gap with unprecedented research and development of new treatments to lessen the burden of depression on human health and well-being by half by 2050.

Why UCLA is focused on depression

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1 in 5 people in the US affected

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Leading cause of disability

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Single largest contributor to global burden of disease by 2030

  • Every 40 seconds, a person dies by depression-related suicide.
  • Only 50% of U.S. adults with major depression are receiving treatment.
  • 50% of the time people do not see improvements with existing treatments.
  • In the U.S. alone, the cost of long-term medical care and lost productivity costs due to depression have been calculated at $326.2 billion annually.
  • Depression is the greatest risk factor for suicide. More than 700,000 people die of suicide each year; even more attempt suicide.

More information about depression