THURSDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 46 million American
adults have had a mental illness in the past year, a new government
Almost 30 percent of those aged 18 to 25 experienced a mental
illness, twice as many as those aged 50 and older at just over 14
percent. And more women than men suffered a mental illness in the
last year (23 percent vs. nearly 17 percent), according to the
report released Thursday from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
"We all know people who have had a depression or an anxiety disorder, maybe something more serious like a bipolar disorder, but this is a pretty big number," said Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Office of Applied Studies.
"This is only the second year where we have done this as a separate report and the findings were not significantly different from last year," Delany noted, so there are not enough data to see a trend.
The reasons why so many people are suffering from these problems
cannot be easily summed up, he said.
The recent economic downturn may be a factor for some, he said.
"But these conditions are multifactorial -- there are genetic
issues, there are biological issues, there are social issues and
also personal issuers," Delany explained.
A lot of people who are not receiving treatment for their mental
illness, he said, cite lack of insurance as the main reason
"There are people who know they have a mental health problem, but aren't interested in getting care," he added.
"We know with the appropriate use of medication and with good treatment people can recover and go on to lead very healthy and productive lives," Delany said.
The new report defines mental illness as having a mental,
behavioral or emotional problem based on criteria in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the standard
reference for mental illness. The report excluded developmental and
substance use disorders.
According to the report, some 11.4 million adults suffered from
serious mental illness in the past year, which is defined as an
illness that affected a person's ability to function normally.
Mental illness doesn't just affect people, but also takes an
economic toll -- about $300 billion in 2002, the researchers
Mental illness also accounts for more disability in developed
countries than any other illness, including cancer and heart
disease, according to the World Health Organization.
Highlights of the report include:
Dr. Ihsan Salloum, director of the Addiction Psychiatry and
Psychiatric Comorbidity Programs at the University of Miami School
of Medicine, said not only is the number of people with mental
problems staggering, but so is the unmet need for care.
"There is a gap between the need and how many people reach treatment," he said. "Mental illness is a treatable problem, and the outcome is as good as any chronic medical problem."
Given the number of people with drug and alcohol problems who
also have mental problems, those with a substance abuse problem
should also be screened for a mental problem, Salloum said.
"If someone has a severe mental disorder and an addiction, it is imperative to take care of both problems, because the two problems feed on each other causing a bad outcome," he said.
And with the number of young people with these problems, the
focus should be on prevention, Salloum added.
To learn about mental health, visit the
National Institute of Mental Health.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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