Apr 29, 2024 - Health

Mental health diagnoses jump among seniors

Illustration of a spotlight shining on a brain.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

The share of patients with mental health diagnoses rose 40% nationally from 2019 to 2023, with the most significant jump among seniors, according to a FAIR Health analysis shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: While the data reflects the anxiety and stress of the pandemic era, it could also point to reduced stigma in seeking care and increased access via telehealth.

By the numbers: Mental health diagnoses rose across all age groups, according to the data from FAIR Health, which used a database of roughly 46 billion commercial insurance claims — including Medicare Advantage — to examine in-network claims between 2019 and 2023.

  • The largest increase (57%) was among those aged 65 and over. About 14% had a mental health diagnosis in 2023, up from 9% in 2019.
  • The second largest increases (about 44%) were among patients ages 23-40.
  • The share of patients ages 23-30 with a mental health diagnosis increased from 19% to 28%, while it increased from 18% to 25% for those 31-40.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder was the most common mental health diagnoses in 2023.

Our thought bubble: Americans have cited poor mental health as one of the biggest threats to public health.

  • While much of the focus has centered on youth as well as working adults, this is a reminder of the challenges faced by adults in their older years.
Go deeper