Top 5 Most Common Mental Illnesses in the United States

September 18, 2021

Thankfully, the stigma surrounding mental illness is starting to disappear, and people are more willing to come forward when they are experiencing mental hardships. We are all very unique individuals, and we don’t always have the same way that we process emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

But, when do you know when your way of living or perception of things is unhealthy and diagnosable? In general, if your feelings and actions are creating a disturbance in your daily life and making it difficult for you to function, it might be worth seeking help from a professional to rule out that there isn’t something more going on than you are aware.

1. Depression

Statistics show that as many as three hundred million people experience depression in their lifetime. It is the number one most common mental health disorder worldwide. It is also an illness that affects women more frequently than men. Depression is a disorder that can leave someone feeling chronically sad, losing pleasure in the things they used to love, and feeling not worthy and guilty.

A person experiencing depression might also have a change in appetite resulting either in either weight gain or weight loss. And they can also have a hard time concentrating on tasks. Depression isn’t a disorder that results from either too much or not enough of certain brain chemicals, as people most often think. Several factors can lead to clinical depression. Things like medical problems, life events, genetics, medications, and biological factors can all be in play.

Depression can be both acute and chronic. And it can also be recurring throughout an individual’s lifetime. It is an illness that can affect a person negatively both at home and at work. And it can put stressors on the relationships that a person has with others.

If depression is severe enough, it can lead to thoughts of death and suicide. Several treatments are effective in alleviating the symptoms of depression. Medications, behavioral therapy, talk therapy, and group therapy can all help the person struggling with depression to overcome it and be a happier, healthier new person.

2. Anxiety

Anxiety is something that a lot of people will experience in combination with depression, but it doesn’t always have to accompany it. It is a disorder that affects an estimated forty million adults every year in the United States. That is approximately 18 percent of the population. There is a multitude of reasons that someone can develop an anxiety disorder.

Those factors can include genetics, life events, and brain chemistry. Anxiety is a highly treatable condition, but unfortunately, less than forty percent living with an anxiety disorder receive treatment for their condition. Medications and psychotherapy are two very effective treatments to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.

3. Bipolar Affective Disorder

The head of a man connected to exterior by threads

Bipolar affective disorder is characterized by episodes where the person goes from depressive to manic. Sometimes the person can continually go from one cycle to the next. And other times, they have a break in between where they experience an average or standard state. Bipolar affective disorder affects nearly sixty million people around the world.

When a person is in a manic episode, they can be highly irritable, hyperactive, have an elevated perception of self, and suffer listless sleep. Less severe forms of manic episodes are called hypomania. The episode that is marked by depression is riddled with unrelenting sadness, very little energy, difficulties sleeping, and feelings of hopelessness.

The cause of bipolar affective disorder is not precisely known. It does appear to have its basis in a combination of neurochemical, environmental, and genetic factors. Bipolar affective disorder is treatable with the use of medication and psychosocial therapies and support.

4. Schizophrenia and Other Forms of Psychoses

Schizophrenia is just one form of psychosis. The classification of psychoses is a common mental health disorder. Globally, nearly twenty-three million people suffer from various types of psychoses. Those who are afflicted with illnesses can have a distortion of perception, thinking, sense of self, behavior, and emotions.

Some suffer from delusions and hallucinations, which usually have an onset in adolescence to adulthood. Having psychoses makes it very difficult for a person to carry on productive work or social life. Due to the stigma that it can come with, those diagnosed are more likely to be discriminated against.

Many who have psychoses do not have access to the mental health support they require. Treatment sometimes includes hospitalization or housing. So they are a very underserved and misunderstood segment of the mental health disorder sufferers around the world.

Schizophrenia is not curable, yet some medications can help with the symptoms of the disorder. The problem is that once the patient starts to feel normal and the side effects cease, they discontinue taking them. And that leads the patient right back to the destructive habits and inability to function out in the world. That is why, for this subgroup of mental illness, having constant monitoring is so critical to success. Yet, it is too expensive for many patients and their families to afford.

5. Dementia

Memory Loss woman with red yarn tied around finger to remember

Dementia is a growing problem, with an estimated fifty million people suffering worldwide. It is a gradual and progressive disease that is irreversible. It involves the deterioration of a person’s cognitive abilities that is beyond what would typically happen with aging.

Dementia can affect every aspect of a person’s ability to think, including memory, orientation, comprehension, language, and calculation. And as the person cognitively declines, they also experience a detriment to their social and emotional status.

There is a multitude of causes for dementia, and the different ways that it can alter the brain’s ability to function. And unfortunately, there is no known cure to either stop dementia from getting worse or curing its effects. Some treatments have been somewhat successful at alleviating the symptoms and slowing the progression of it.

Is What you are Feeling Normal?

Mental illness touches nearly everyone and every family around the world. Up until the last several decades, mental illness and disorders of the brain were a mystery. As science continues to unlock the secrets of the mind and how it works, the hope is that better medications and treatments will help to alleviate the millions of sufferers around the globe. The good news is that many mental illnesses are not only treatable, but they are also curable.

If you are wondering if you, or someone you love, may have a mental illness, there is help available. The first step is to admit that there might be something going on so that you can get the evaluation that you need to make things better.


Share This