Mental Illness

Three Mental Illnesses that Affect Millions of Americans

10855632_sMore often than not, mental illness does not receive the same attention as conditions affecting physical health. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that mental illness is still surrounded by a cloud of stigma making it difficult for society to openly talk about and address such issues.  Other times there is a lack of education and awareness regarding mental health matters and just how many people are truly impacted by them.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that over a quarter of all Americans over the age of 18 have a diagnosable mental illness each year. That equates to almost 63 million men and women. Three of the most common mental health problems include eating disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders.

Eating Disorders. Women tend to be diagnosed with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia far more frequently than men. Both anorexia and bulimia can leave a person severely malnourished and trigger other serious health problems. In each case, the course of treatment may include individual and group therapy and family support. Sometimes an anti-depressant is necessary to treat symptoms of depression. Additionally, millions of women and men live with binge eating disorder or compulsive eating disorders, and may have untreated coexisting mental illnesses that contribute to the destructive cycle.

Mood Disorders. Two of the more frequently diagnosed mood disorders include bipolar disorder and depression. Approximately 6 million Americans are affected by bipolar disorder, and more than twice that (15 million)  live with major depressive disorder. Without treatment, both can seriously affect family life, careers, finances and every area of life. Per NIMH figures, depression is the leading cause for disability for those between the ages of 15 and 44. Treatment involves medication and counseling.

Personality Disorders. Just under 10 percent of Americans are affected by personality disorders such as anti-social personality disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and avoidant personality disorder. These are serious forms of mental illness that impact daily functioning and social relationships. They can be more difficult to treat and often require medication.

Mental illness doesn’t have to dictate the course of a person’s life. With professional help, such as from Family Guidance Center,  many individuals manage symptoms successfully and lead very fulfilling and productive lives.  If you would like to set an appointment or learn more about available mental health services in your community, contact Family Guidance Center.