Mental Illness in America

March 7th, 2011 by admin

Mental Illness in America

Mental Illness in America

Mental illness is one of the largest health issues in the United States, with an estimated one-quarter to one-third of the population having some type of diagnosable mental disorder; this prevalence rate is higher than that of  STD’s or cancer. With these disorders being as common as they are, Americans should educate themselves on mental illnesses.

Mental disorders have different degrees in severity; one in seventeen Americans have serious mental disorders. Additionally, 45% of people diagnosed with one mental illness have, in fact, two or more. Mood disorders like depression are some of the most common ailments, with over 22 million Americans developing one each year. Of these mood disorders, 14 million have depression, 3 million have dysthymia (cycling depression), and 5 million have bipolar disorder. This has led to a threefold increase in antidepressant consumption in the past decade.

About one percent, or 2.4 million Americans, have schizophrenia. Many people think this disorder affects males more often, but in fact, it impacts both genders about equally, although generally, males show symptoms a few years earlier. Equally serious, and enduring, personality disorders affect another ten percent of the population. These disorders include antisocial personality disorder and avoidant-personality disorder.

Anxiety disorders are another class of illness that affect 40 million Americans. The most common subtypes of anxiety disorders are social anxiety and phobias, like obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Mental illnesses can have serious outcomes for many. The most lethal are eating disorders, which can increase mortality by 12 times in 15-24 year old people. While only 55,000 people are committed to mental hospitals, at least half a million people in prison have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, and around 40% of homeless people have a severe mental illness.

Mental illnesses occur in children at high rates as well, with half of all worldwide cases starting before the child reaches age 14. Unfortunately, many countries lack the means to treat these young patients, since they only have one child psychiatrist for every 2-4 million residents.

If you are interested in contributing to America’s health and assist in treating people with mental disorders, you may want to consider working as a certified medical assistant. Look up medical assistant programs at medical assistant schools for more information on how to get started.

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