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Duration of functionally limiting depression/anxiety/emotional problem: Years

Codes and Frequencies

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For sample adults age 18+ who have at least one functional activity limitation (FLANY), and for whom depression, anxiety, or an emotional problem was reported as a condition causing any functional activity limitation (FLDEPRES), FLDEPRESY reports the duration, in years, of the depression, anxiety, or emotional problem.

Data on the duration of limiting depression, anxiety, or emotional problem were collected via the question, "How long have you had [depression, anxiety, or an emotional problem]?" Respondents could answer this open-ended question using the time unit of their choice (i.e., days, weeks, months, years, or since birth). The original responses to the question are reported in two complementary variables, FLDEPRESTP (which specifies the time unit) and FLDEPRESNO (which reports the number of such units). For the NHIS public use files, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) recoded the results from these two variables to create two other variables using standard time units: years (FLDEPRESY) and groups of months (FLDEPRESMO).


Apart from a change in the coding of "unknown" cases, this variable is comparable across years.


In 2002 forward, the unknowns were categorized as:

  • Unknown number of years (IPUMS NHIS code 96)
  • Unknown-refused (IHIS code 97)
  • Unknown-not ascertained (IHIS code 98)
  • Unknown-don't know (IHIS code 99)

However, in 1997-2001, the category of "Unknown number of years" did not occur.

Analysts can achieve comparability across all years by combining codes for values of 96 and above into a single "unknown" category.


  • 1997-2013; 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018: Sample adults age 18+ who have difficulty with activities due to depression, anxiety, or emotional problem.


  • 1997-2018