Statistics of Mental Illness in the US | BrainsWay

US Mental Health Statistics

Over the past several decades, mental health has drawn a great degree of interest, as a quintessential part of general well-being. As our understanding of mental health grows, national governmental organizations are looking into the degree to which different mental health disorders appear and affect the population, with the US often leading the way in terms of statistical data collection and analysis. Read on to learn more about statistics of mental illness in the US, depression and anxiety statistics in the US, teenage mental health statistics in the US, and more.

US Mental Health Statistics

How is Mental Illness Defined?

Before delving into mental illness statistics, it is important to arrive at a definition of both mental health and mental illness.

Mental Health

As a global leader in the field of human well-being, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not draw a clear distinction between physical and mental health, speaking instead about the importance of health and well-being as a whole, with both aspects of one’s experiences playing a fundamental role in its attainment. The organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of infirmity.” In other words, health is viewed as a beneficial state of being, instead of the lack of any illness.

Drawing from this definition, good mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness, or of stressors; rather, it is the opportunity to handle destabilizing factors in flexible and favorable ways, being able to adjust to new life circumstances, and pursue their own aspirations, while performing daily life functions.

Mental Illness

When it comes to mental illness, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) offers a slightly more specific definition, compared to the WHO’s more holistic take on health in general. The APA describes mental illness as “health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these).” It goes on to state that mental illnesses are usually “associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.”

While specifically mentioning emotion, cognition, and behavior as relevant spheres to mental illness, the APA nevertheless paints the term with a broad brush, stating that when someone experiences a change to these areas, to the degree that distress is caused, or their functioning is impaired, mental illness may be considered.

mental health problems statistics in the us

US Mental Health Statistics

The US is a leading source of mental health statistical data, with statistics of mental health in the US also providing valuable information to the rest of world on the prevalence of different mental health disorders.

Over half of all Americans will experience some type of a mental health disorder during their lifetime. One in five Americans will experience a mental health disorder in a given year. One in five children have dealt with a serious mental health disorder at some point in their life. And one in 25 Americans currently lives with a serious mental health disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Anxiety in the US

Much like the rest of the world, the most common type of mental health disorder is anxiety. US statistics reflect this disorder’s global ubiquity, with a large portion of the US population found to face this condition.

Anxiety is defined as a tense, unpleasant sense of hyperalertness in the face of danger, when no such danger exists. Of the US population, 19.1% contends with at least one anxiety disorder, while 31.1% of US adults have dealt with one or more anxiety disorder across their lifetime.

Roughly 9.5% of the US adult population have experienced mild anxiety, 3.4% have experienced moderate anxiety, and 2.7% have experienced severe anxiety. Among all three groups, anxiety rates were shown to decrease with age, so that the older one gets, the lower their chances of experiencing anxiety. Females are more likely to experience anxiety than males (19.0% vs. 11.9%, respectively).

Depression in the US

Depression is described as a disconnect from one’s emotions, with deep, unrelenting emptiness, sadness, and an inability to feel joy as its central features. One in 15 US adults (6.7%) contends with depression. 17.3 million US adults (7.1%) have experienced at least one depressive episode.

Females are 1.5- 3 times more likely to experience depression than males. That said, there seems to be a distinct time period when this is the case, as only females between the onset of puberty and the onset of menopause are at a higher risk for depression: prior to puberty, girls and boys exhibit similar rates of depression; and the same goes to women and men after the age of 60. Women tend to exhibit internal symptoms of depression, relating to thoughts and feelings. Men are more likely to exhibit external symptoms, relating to social functioning—particularly in their occupational sphere.

OCD in the US

Another mental health disorder receiving greater attention is obsessive-compulsive disorder (or OCD). Originally recognized as part of the anxiety disorders family, OCD is defined by two main types of symptoms: obsessive thoughts, and compulsive actions. At present, an OCD debate remains ongoing, as to whether the condition truly stems from anxiety, or if the driving force behind it is actually distress, in the form of nagging, relentless thought content that causes a great deal of frustration.

Regardless of its source, OCD is relatively common, with 1.2% (or 2-3 million) US adults facing this condition, in addition to roughly 500,000 US children. Women experience higher rates of OCD than men (1.8% vs. 0.5%, respectively).

Where to Turn for Mental Health Support

Those looking for mental health support can reach out to the following, available organizations, including: