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Selected Facts about Mental Health in the United States

Submitted by on September 4, 2016 – 1:47 pm | 347 views

Selected Facts about Mental Health in the United States


  • An estimated 61.5 million Americans—about one in four adults—suffer from a in a given year. About 13.6 million Americans, or 1 in 17, suffer from a serious mental illness.
  • About 20 percent of young Americans ages 13 to 18 and 13 percent of those ages 8 to 15 experience in a given year.
  • Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States. 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 two or more disorders.
  • In 2011, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 38,285 deaths. Risk factors for suicide include depression and other mental disorders or a substance use disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders).
  • Serious mental illnesses cost the United States more than $317 billion annually in lost wages, health care expenditures, and disability benefits. Lost earnings alone account for $193 billion per year.

Co-occurrence/Comorbidity in Mental Health

  • Treatment challenges are exacerbated by co-occurrence or comorbidity of mental disorders. One study found that nearly half of individuals seeking treatment for substance use disorder meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD, and individuals with co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorder tended to have poorer treatment outcomes compared to those without the comorbidity.
  • About one-third of people diagnosed with major depressive disorder also have substance use disorder and the comorbidity results in a higher risk of suicide and greater social and personal impairment as well as other psychiatric conditions.
  • It is estimated that depression occurs in 50 percent of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, and about 47 percent have a lifetime diagnosis of comorbid substance abuse.

Anxiety Disorders

  • Anxiety disorders, which include panic disorder, , PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, phobias and social anxiety disorder, affect some 40 million adults ages 18 and older, or about 18 percent of people in that age group in a given year.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder affects about 6.8 million American adults, including twice as many women as men.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects about 2.2 million American adults, striking men and women in roughly equal numbers.
  • Panic disorder affects about 6 million American adults and is twice as common in women as men.
  • PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults, but it can occur at any age, including childhood. Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men, and there is some evidence that susceptibility to the disorder may run in families.
  • affects about 15 million American adults. Women and men are equally likely to develop the disorder.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • ADHD is the most common mental disorder in children and adolescents. It affects as many as one in every 20 children, and boys are three to four times more likely than girls to experience the disorder. About 4 percent of adults ages 18 to 44 are affected by ADHD.
  • Although most children with ADHD have normal or above-normal intelligence, 40 percent to 60 percent have serious learning difficulties.
  • Children and adolescents with ADHD are more likely than children without the disorder to suffer from other mental disorders.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • In 2010, about 1 in 68 8-year-olds were identified with autism spectrum disorder ().* The 2010 estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than the estimate for 2008 (1 in 88), 60 percent higher than the estimate for 2006 (1 in 110), and 120 percent higher than the estimates for 2002 and 2000 (1 in 150). (The exact cause of the increase is unknown, but researchers believe some of it may be due to the way children are identified, diagnosed, and served in their local communities.)
  • Boys were almost five times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls in 2010. About 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls were identified with ASD.


  • , which include major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, affect nearly 21 million adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
  • Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. The median age of onset for bipolar disorder is 25 years.
  • Depression can strike anyone regardless of age, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, or gender; however, studies have found that depression is about twice as common in women as in men. In any given one year period, depressive illnesses affect more than 12 million women and more than 6 million men.
  • Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability among Americans ages 15-44. It affects nearly 15 million U.S. adults.

Eating Disorders

  • In their lifetime, an estimated 0.6 percent of the U.S. adult population will suffer from , 1.0 percent from bulimia, and 2.8 percent from a binge-eating disorder.
  • Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. They are three times as likely to experience anorexia (0.9 percent of women vs. 0.3 percent of men) and bulimia (1.5 percent of women vs. 0.5 percent of men) during their lives. They are also 75 percent more likely to have a binge-eating disorder (3.5 percent of women vs. 2.0 percent of men).


  • Approximately 2.4 million American adults age 18 and older have schizophrenia in a given year. It affects men and women with equal frequency. Schizophrenia often first appears in men in their late teens or early twenties. In contrast, women are generally affected in their twenties or early thirties.1
  • The appearance of before age 12 is rare—less than one-sixtieth as common as the adult-onset type. Neurodevelopmental damage seems to be greater in childhood schizophrenia than in the adult onset type.

Substance Use/Addictive Disorders

  • An estimated 17 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder—a medical term that includes both and harmful drinking that does not reach the level of dependence.
  • Each year in the United States, nearly 80,000 people die from alcohol-related causes, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in our country.
  • Illicit drug use in America has been increasing. In 2012, an estimated 23.9 million Americans ages 12 or older—or 9.2 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month.

That was up from 8.3 percent in 2002.

  • In 2008 there were 1.9 million . Adults ages 18 to 25 have a higher rate of current cocaine use than any other age group. Overall, men report higher rates of cocaine use than women.
  • Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States, including productivity and health and crime-related costs, exceed $600 billion annually. That includes approximately $193 billion for illicit drugs, $193 billion for tobacco, and $235 billion for alcohol.

Tourette’s Syndrome


  1. National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information,


  1. Schizophrenia Bulletin,


  1. , www.mentalhealthamerica.net
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,


  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse, www.drugabuse.gov
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,


  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org

Source: Medicines in Development for Mental Health (2014). Selected Facts about Mental Health in the United States. Retrieved September 04, 2016, from http://www.phrma.org/sites/default/files/pdf/


A previous article entitled Mental Health Medications provides information... Abnormal thinking, Acting aggressively ve ADHD

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