Over the past year, major depression affected one in 13 American adults older than 18—that’s 16.5 million people—according to a recent study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA defines major depression as any period of two weeks or longer where a person demonstrates some of the following signs: depressed mood, loss of pleasure or interest, and at least four other symptoms, such as loss of appetite, lack of sleep and poor self-image.

Researchers analyzed 45,000 non-institutionalized adults. The scientists found that the rates of major depressive episodes among those ages 18 to 24 (8.9 percent) and those 26 to 49 (8.5 percent) were higher than rates for those 50 and older (5.8 percent). They also found that among the people who sought professional help for their depression, 68.8 percent of them saw or talked to a medical doctor or other health professional and got a prescription medication for their illness.

SAMHSA urges those who are suffering from depression to reach out for help. “Depression is a medical condition that should be treated with the same urgency as any other medical condition,” said Eric Broderick, MD, SAMHSA’s acting administrator.

Read RH’s “No Longer Silent” to learn about NY1 news reporter Dominic Carter’s experience with his mother’s mental illness.