Prevalence and severity of mental illness in the United States

Over the course of the previous 12 months, more than one-fourth of adults reported having symptoms that would qualify them for a diagnosis of a mental disorder; and most of those disorders can be classified as serious or moderate, according to a study in the June issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Although previous epidemiological surveys have estimated prevalence of mental disorders in the U.S. as high as 30 percent, information on severity and comorbidity (individuals with symptoms that meet criteria for two or more mental disorders at the same time) has not previously been available, according to background information in the article.

Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues analyzed information on mental disorders in the United States collected from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), a nationally representative face-to-face household survey conducted between February 2001 and April 2003 using the World Health Organization World Mental Health Survey Initiative version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. The researchers determined the 12-month prevalence of different types of mental disorders (the percentage of individuals reported having symptoms that would represent a particular mental disorder in the course of the previous 12 months) as well as the level of severity of the disorder in that 12-month period and the likelihood that an individual qualifying in that 12-month period for a diagnosis for one mental disorder would also meet the criteria for at least one other (comorbidity).

The disorders were divided into four classes: anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder; mood disorders, including major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder; impulse control disorder, including oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and intermittent ex

Contact: John Lacey
JAMA and Archives Journals

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