Lack of Vacation Linked to Depression in 30.4% of Americans

mental health

Americans suffering from a "vacation deficit" are nearly two times as likely to show signs of moderately severe to severe depression compared to the national average, according to the tenth annual Allianz Global Assistance Vacation Confidence Index. "Vacation deficit" identifies those who think that a vacation is important but are not confident they will take one this year.

"Vacation Deficit Disorder," or the relationship between a lack of vacation and depression and vice versa, was identified by international polling experts Ipsos, which administered the PHQ‑9 survey, a clinically validated screening questionnaire to test likely levels of depression, to a statistically significant sampling of American travelers.

The 8.1% of American adults who identify as Travel Channel Watchers, according to AudienceSCAN, have big dreams for travel plans within the next year. Nearly 47% would like to take a trip to the beach, 34.6% want to head to a state or national park, 33.2% think a trip to a museum would be nice and 29.2% would even like to vacation outside of the U.S.

Almost one-​third (30.4%) of Americans with a vacation deficit demonstrate symptoms of mild to moderate depression, while 12% would be considered to be suffering signs of moderately severe to severe depression. Meanwhile, of the general population, those identified as displaying signs of moderately severe or severe depression are significantly less likely to have taken a vacation in the past two years, and are less likely to take a vacation in 2018.

Vacation Deficit Disorder
Depression SeveritySuffering
"Vacation Deficit"
Not suffering
"Vacation Deficit"
National Average
Not at all31.2%39%38%
Moderately Severe/​Severe12%5.3%6.2%

To understand whether there was a link between depression and the incidence of vacationing, Ipsos, in partnership with Allianz, administered the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ‑9) survey, an initial screening tool used by medical professionals to identify symptoms of depression.

The results suggest that there could be a link for those with more severe symptoms of depression and their propensity to take a vacation, despite being more insistent on its importance.

The data showed the following among those who were identified as potentially having moderately severe or severe depression (with national average in parenthesis):

  • An annual vacation is very important: 40% (31%)
  • Very confident in taking a summer vacation: 24% (32%)
  • Typically get a summer vacation: 39% (46%)
  • Did not take a 2017 summer vacation: 62% (47%)
  • Last vacation was more than two years ago: 56% (38%)
  • Very confident in taking a vacation in 2018 at any point: 23% (35%)

When dreaming of taking a vacation, many Travel Channel Watchers will begin doing their research. According to AudienceSCAN, in the last month, 59.7% of this audience used a search engine to research a product or service they were considering purchasing. Only 17.2% will go past the first page of results though.

The 10th annual Vacation Confidence Index poll by Ipsos for Allianz Global Assistance provides an opportunity to look back at how Americans' vacation habits have changed over the past decade.

Among the 58% of Americans who say it's important that they get a vacation each year, 67% are confident that they'll get one. This leaves a vacation deficit of 21% of Americans who find annual vacations important but aren't confident they'll take one in the next 12 months, unchanged since last year, while one in ten (11%) have already taken one.

Travel-​related businesses can stress the importance of regular vacations to potential clients a number of ways. According to AudienceSCAN, last year, 49.3% of Travel Channel Watchers took action after receiving an email advertisement. They're also 16% more likely than other adults to take action after seeing a newspaper ad, both online and in print. This audience is also 63% more likely than other adults to purchase home exercise/​fitness equipment, possibly to get beach-​body ready. These retailers can boost sales by targeting this audience through TV ads, since 66% of this audience took action after seeing a TV commercial last year.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.

Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Analyst, specializing in audience intelligence, at SalesFuel. She also helps to maintain the major accounts and co-​op intelligence databases. As the holder of a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, Rachel helps the rest of the SalesFuel team with their writing needs.