LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — The Center for Disease Control (CDC) just released a report that listed Kentucky as number two in the nation when it comes to depression.

Researchers found that one in five adults were diagnosed with this condition in 2020.


However, one UK healthcare expert said the data is not that depressing.

Julie Cerel, Ph.D., professor at UK’s College of Social Work and director of its Suicide Prevention and Exposure Lab, took a look at the CDC report, but through the eyes of a health care provider.

“I actually see this as something good, and that it means providers are actually catching depression in people that have it,” Cerel said.

Cerel said she wasn’t surprised by the number of Kentuckians diagnosed with depression, but the key word is diagnosed, meaning there were probably more.

However, another positive takeaway she saw was that the report also proved that Kentuckians were taking advantage of telehealth services more than the other states.

“The other thing that happened in Kentucky that I think is really good is that we very rapidly shifted to telemedicine and teletherapy, and I think not every state was fortunate enough that allowed providers to do that,” Cerel said. “And so that’s another reason that, in 2020, we might have started having more people in the Commonwealth who were diagnosed with depression.”

Some more interesting findings from the CDC report showed that depression was higher among women (24%) than men (13.3%); young adults ages 18–24 (21.5%) were seeking help for depression more often than adults 65 and older (14.2%); only 18 percent of those who were clinically diagnosed with depression sought recommended treatment; the study also found depression was more prevalent among Caucasians.

Cerel added that women tend to be more open about their struggles with depression, while men tend to self-medicate with substances. She also said young adults are past the stigma and are open about speaking with mental health therapists, while the stigma still holds back the middle-aged and older generations.

As for depression being more prevalent among Caucasians, Cerel said both racial and economic inequality plays a part.

“What we do know is there’s been research that shows that nonwhite individuals with the same symptoms as white individuals are diagnosed with things that are not as simple as depression,” Cerel said. “They are seen as being troublesome patients or being angry or and so it’s not surprising to me that people who are not white are not seeking help, because in their communities they’ve heard like, well, they’re not going to help you.”

Cerel said there are plenty of resources in the Bluegrass to help anyone from any background battling depression.

Local clinics and the mental health hotline, 988, are the best places to start.