One in Four Adults in the U.S. Suffer from a Mental Disorder

Teri Robert Health Guide
  • Sad Mime Someone I know emailed me today, an email I found upsetting and sad. In exploring the HealthCentral Network site, she'd found that I'm now writing here, on MyDepressionConnection.


    Under other circumstances, I'd be glad she'd noticed and hope she was getting something from reading what everyone writes here, but she went on to say,

      "I don't understand why you'd want to spend your time writing about depression when you're already writing about migraines and pain, two real diseases... When people are sad or having a bad day, they need to do deal with their emotions instead of popping pills or complaining..."

    What the ... !? Obviously, this is someone who doesn't know me very well or she'd know that I've been dealing with depression for many years. She's also know that depression IS a disease.

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    I have to admit that this email has really disrupted my day. It's been beyond difficult to think about much else. Now it's time to stop brooding about it, so I thought I'd write here and share a bit of information from the National Institute of Mental Health:

      Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older - about one in four adults - suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people. Even though mental disorders are widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion - about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 - who suffer from a serious mental illness. In addition, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. Nearly half (45 percent) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for 2 or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity.


      The Impact of Mental Illness on Society

      The burden of mental illness on health and productivity in the United States and throughout the world has long been underestimated. Data developed by the massive Global Burden of Disease study conducted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and Harvard University, reveal that mental illness, including suicide, accounts for over 15 percent of the burden of disease in established market economies, such as the United States. This is more than the disease burden caused by all cancers.

    Maybe her words came from depression being an invisible illness. Whatever prompted the email, I hope she finds and reads this. I hope she broadens her perceptions and becomes more compassionate and understanding.


    I hope and plead that it's so...


    live well,

Published On: September 18, 2007