The Most Common Mental Health Issues in America

Mental health is an important topic of discussion in today's society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 5 Americans currently lives with mental illness. Of these, the three most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Millions of Americans are living with mental health problems, and the conversation is moving from taboo to a more public and healthy approach.

Mental health is defined as your psychological and emotional well-being. This can be affected by many biological factors, such as genetics, brain chemistry, life experiences such as trauma and abuse, or a family history of mental health problems. The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that one in five adults in the United States experiences mental illness in their lifetime. Right now, nearly 10 million Americans are living with a serious mental disorder.

The most common mental health issues are anxiety disorders, major depression, and bipolar disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health disorders that include generalized anxiety disorders, social phobias, specific phobias (for example, agoraphobia and claustrophobia), panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder. If left untreated, anxiety disorders can cause significant deterioration in people's daily lives. Bipolar affective disorder is a type of mood disorder, formerly called “manic depression”.

A person with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of mania (euphoria) and depression. The person may or may not experience psychotic symptoms. The exact cause is unknown, but a genetic predisposition has been clearly established. Environmental stressors can also trigger episodes of this mental illness.

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by decreased mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy. It's not just about feeling sad; there are different types and symptoms of depression. There are different levels of severity and symptoms related to depression. Symptoms of depression may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior.

An estimated 26% of Americans age 18 and older (approximately 1 in 4 adults) have a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at any given time; in particular, depressive illnesses tend to co-exist with substance abuse and anxiety disorders. Approximately 9.5% of American adults age 18 and older will suffer from a depressive illness (major depression, bipolar disorder, or dysthymia) each year. Most people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder, usually a depressive disorder or a substance use disorder.

Approximately 1% of Americans are affected by schizophrenia. According to a model of vulnerability to stress (Nuechterlein & Dawson, 1988), it is not just biological factors that can trigger the development of a common mental health disorder; therefore, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the view that the prevalence of common mental health disorders varies according to gender and social and economic factors. The relationship between stress and mental illness is complex, but it is known that stress can worsen an episode of mental illness. The 1-week prevalence of other common mental health disorders was 4.4% for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), 2.3% for a depressive episode, 1.4% for phobia, 1.1% for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and 1.1% for panic disorder (McManus et al., 2007).

Mind has more than 150 stores in England and Wales that raise money to fund vital mental health support services. The estimated costs are due to the use of health resources such as mental health services, medications, hospitalization, nursing homes and ambulatory visits; losses in productivity; and to a lesser extent the provision of other services such as criminal justice services, the administration of social assistance and incarceration; as well as the provision of family care (0.8%) (Andlin-Sobocki et al., 2005). Since 50% of people with depression never see a doctor, 95% never go to secondary mental health services, and many more have their depression unrecognized or untreated; this is clearly a problem for primary care. This increase in cost may be due to factors such as the increase in the use of outpatient mental health services or the use of specialized medical services.

The ONS survey identified poor physical health and problems with alcohol consumption as predictors of anxiety and depression (Salokangas & Poutanen, 1999), while King et al., (2000) found that the worst current functional state of physical and mental health according to the 12-point questionnaire of the abbreviated Health Survey (SF-1) was related to the development of depression. The basic principle is that patients with a common mental health disorder will “follow” progressive levels of treatment as needed with the expectation that many will recover during the less intensive phases.

Jeanette Kunzler
Jeanette Kunzler

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