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One In Four Adults Suffer From A Diagnosed Mental Disorder In The United States

Updated on November 28, 2015
Mood disorders often require an assortment of medications
Mood disorders often require an assortment of medications

Mental Illness Disorders

Mood disorders are prevalent in the United States. Did you know approximately 26 percent of Americans 18 and older suffer from some form of a mental illness? That is one in four adults diagnosed mental disorder. Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people between the ages 15-44. It is also estimated that many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a time.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders include Major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder.

• Approximately 21 million American adults aged 18 or older have been diagnosed with a mood disorder.

• Many depressive disorders frequently occur along with anxiety issues and substance abuse problems.

• The average age for onset of a mood disorder is 30.

Major Depressive Disorder

• Major depressive disorder is the major cause of disability in the United States for the ages of 15 through 44.

• Major depression can developed at any age, but the average age for onset in 32 years old.

• Major depression affects an estimated 7 percent of the U.S. population age of 18 and older.

• Major depression affects more women than men.

Dysthymic Disorder

• Dysthymic disorder is a chronic disturbance of mood lasting at least two years in adults defined by recurrent periods of mild depression and symptoms as insomnia, tearfulness, and pessimism.

It is estimated that about 3.3 million Americans have dysthymic disorder. The average age of onset of dysthymic disorder is 31 years old.


• Schizophrenia affects men and women equally. Schizophrenia often appears in men in while in their late teens and women while in their twenties or early thirties.

• Approximately 2.4 million adults have schizophrenia.

• Schizophrenia is characterized by reality distortions resulting in unusual thought patterns and behaviors. It is not a multiple personality disorder.

Bipolar Disorder

• Bipolar disorder, or previously called manic-depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that causes radical emotional changes and mood swings, from manic highs to depressive lows. The majority of bipolar individuals experience alternating episodes of mania and depression.

• Bipolar affects approximately 5.7 million adults in the U.S.

• Because two thirds of bipolar patients have a family history of affective or emotional disorders, researchers have searched for a genetic link to bipolar disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

• OCD is defined by distressing repetitive thoughts, impulses that are intense, frightening,impulsive , or unusual. These thoughts are followed by ritualized actions that are usually bizarre and irrational.

• The first signs of OCD begin in childhood or in the teen years. Average age being 19.

• Obsessions can be intrusive, irrational thoughts that keep popping up in a person's mind, such as the urgency to wash one's hands again. Typical obsessions include fears of dirt, germs, contamination, and violent or aggressive impulses. Other obsessions include feeling responsible or others' safety or an irrational fear of hitting a pedestrian with a car.

• Approximately 2.2 million American adults age 18 and older suffer from OCD.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

• Post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental disorder that follows an occurrence of extreme psychological stress, such as that encountered in war or resulting from violence, childhood abuse, sexual abuse, or serious accident.

• An estimated 7.7 adults 18 and older experience PTSD in the U.S.

• PTSD can occur at any age.

Anxiety Disorder

• Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive compulive disorder, post-traumatic disorder, dtress disorder,generalized disorder, and phobias, including agoraphobia,social phobia and specific phobia.

• People with anxiety disorder may also have problems with drinking and taking drugs. Self medicating becomes a way to deal with the anxiety.

• Approximately 40 million American adults have an anxiety disorder.

• Nearly three quarters of those with an anxiety disorder will have had an episode by 21 years of age.


• More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosed mental disorder. Usually a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder.

• Four times as many men as women die by suicide. Women attempt suicide two to three times as often as men.

• The highest suicide rates in the U.S. are found in white men over age 85

• Call 911 or call 1-800-SUICIDE


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    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      11 years ago from Washington MI

    • dr c profile image

      dr c 

      11 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      In response to the above question - yes, the age of onset of bipolar disorder is very related to it's prognosis. Generally pediatric bipolar has a worse prognosis than bipolar disorder that begins at a later date. There is also a big difference between Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorder and whether the episodes have a long or short time between them. Bipolar is a very complex disorder, and medication generally plays a really important role in managing this disorder. I hope this is helpful.

    • Kulsum Mehmood profile image

      Dr Kulsum Mehmood 

      11 years ago from Nagpur, India

      I wish to know if the age of onset of bipolar disorder affects its prognosis. I mean if this disorder manifests at an earlier age is it more serious for the later years. One of my near and dear one is affected by this disorder.

    • glassvisage profile image


      12 years ago from Northern California

      This is a great idea for a hub. People should be aware of the things that people face everyday and can't help before they make assumptions and even act on them.


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