Mental Disorders in America
Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 22.1% of Americans ages 18 and older-about 1 in 5 adults-suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 1998 U.S. Census residential population estimate, this figure translates to 44.3 million people. In addition, 4 of the 10 leading causes of disability in the U.S. and other developed countries are mental disorders - major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time.
In the U.S., mental disorders are diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV).
- Depressive disorders encompass major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is included because people with this illness have depressive episodes as well as manic episodes.
- Approximately 18.8 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a depressive disorder.
- Nearly twice as many women (12.0 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder each year. These figures translate to 12.4 million women and 6.4 million men in the U.S.
- Depressive disorders may be appearing earlier in life in people born in recent decades compared to the past.
- Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
- In 1997, 30,535 people died from suicide in the U.S.
- More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder, commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder.
- The highest suicide rates in the U.S. are found in white men over age 85.
- The suicide rate in young people increased dramatically over the last few decades. In 1997, suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds.
- Four times as many men than women commit suicide; however, women attempt suicide 2-3 times as often as men.
- Approximately 2.2 million American adults, 2 or about 1.1 % of the population age 18 and older in a given year, 1 have schizophrenia.
- Schizophrenia affects men and women with equal frequency.
- Schizophrenia often first appears earlier in men, usually in their late teens or early 20s, than in women, who are generally affected in their 20s or early 30s.
- Approximately 19.1 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 13.3 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have an anxiety disorder.
- Anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with depressive disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse.
- Many people have more than one anxiety disorder.
- Women are more likely than men to have an anxiety disorder. Approximately twice as many women as men suffer from panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and specific phobia, though about equal numbers of women and men have obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia.
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- Females are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated 5 to 15 % of people with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder are male.
- In their lifetime, an estimated 0.5 % to 3.7 % of females suffer from anorexia and an estimated 1.1 % to 4.2 % suffer from bulimia.
- Community surveys have estimated that between 2 % and 5 % of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a 6-month period.
- ADHD, one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents, affects an estimated 4.1 % of youths ages 9 to 17 in a 6-month period.
- About 2-3 times more boys than girls are affected.
- ADHD usually becomes evident in preschool or early elementary years. The disorder frequently persists into adolescence and occasionally into adulthood.
- Autism affects an estimated 1 to 2 per 1,000 people.
- Autism and related disorders (also called autism spectrum disorders or pervasive developmental disorders) develop in childhood and generally are apparent by age 3.
- Autism is about 4 times more common in boys than girls. Girls with the disorder, however, tend to have more severe symptoms and greater cognitive impairment.
- Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia among people age 65 and older, affects an estimated 4 million Americans.
- As more and more Americans live longer, the number affected by Alzheimer's disease will continue to grow unless a cure or effective prevention is discovered.
- The duration of illness, from onset of symptoms to death, averages 8 to 10 years.
For more information about these conditions, please visit the following areas:
- Depression Center
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Center
- Schizophrenia Center
- Panic Disorder Center
- Anorexia Nervosa Center
- Bulimia Center
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Center
- Autism Center
- Alzheimer's Disease Center
Portions of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/numbers.cfm).
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Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004