Wave of mental illness sweeps America, huge boon for psychiatric drug industry

Friday, March 04, 2011 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: mental illness, America, health news

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(NaturalNews) Twenty percent of U.S. adults - 45 million people - suffered from mental illness in 2009, according to a report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The figure marks a slight increase over the 2008 figure of 19.5 percent.

The highest rates of mental illness were found among young adults and the lowest among older adults, with 30 percent of adults aged 18 to 25 suffering from some form of mental illness compared with only 13.7 percent of those over age 49.

Depression was one of the most common mental disorders, with 14.8 million adults suffering from the condition, including 10 percent of unemployed adults. Rates of depression were significantly lower among the retired (7.5 percent), partially employed (7.3 percent) and fully employed (5.4 percent), suggesting that record unemployment levels may be partially to blame for the recent upswing in mental illness. The study found that unemployed adults were twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as fully employed adults.

Unfortunately, job loss often also means loss of health insurance, meaning more mental illness than ever is going untreated. The percentage of adults with mental illness who received treatment fell from 71 percent in 2008 to 64 percent in 2009. The study found that among the 6.1 million U.S. adults who suffered from an untreated mental illness in 2009, 42.5 percent said it was because they could not afford treatment.

"Too many Americans are not getting the help they need and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed," said SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde. "The consequences for individuals, families and communities can be devastating. If left untreated, mental illnesses can result in disability, substance abuse, suicides, lost productivity, and family discord."

Mental illness was strongly linked with substance abuse, with almost 20 percent of those suffering from mental illness also abusing at least one substance. Among those with serious mental illness, the percentage went up to 25.7 percent, roughly four times the rate of those without serious mental illness.

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