An Overview of Mental Health Statistics  

Man meeting with a therapist.

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Especially with the challenges posed by COVID-19, mental health may be one of your main priorities. Much like physical health, mental health can encompass a variety of issues, and it can significantly impact the lives of those affected as well as their loved ones.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2019 statistics illustrate that 20.6% of the American population reported mental health challenges, and 18.4% of that subpopulation also deal with substance use issues.

This rate may be even higher given the stigma of mental health issues, which can make it hard for folx to disclose psychiatric challenges. Mental health issues can arise at any age for folx of all backgrounds, genders, etc.

Since psychiatric concerns often include symptoms including feelings of hopelessness or worry, it can make it particularly difficult to access much-needed mental health support.

In this article, the statistics regarding mental health issues reported in the U.S. will be reviewed in case you are impacted or need to support a loved one who is dealing with such challenges.

Anxiety

The Cleveland Clinic explains that anxiety disorders impact approximately 40 million Americans, making them the most common mental health condition in the U.S.

There are a variety of anxiety disorders including:

While all folx may experience anxiety to some degree, diagnosis with an anxiety disorder is usually based on distressing symptoms that limit the ability to function in daily activities, like work or school tasks.

Depression

According to SAMHSA, 7.8% of the U.S. adult population reported a major depressive episode in 2019. The John Hopkins Medicine Health Library describes depression as a condition that negatively impacts emotions and both the mind and body with symptoms such as:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy
  • Sleep challenges
  • Appetite issues
  • Suicidal ideation

Schizophrenia

The Cleveland Clinic describes schizophrenia as a mental health condition that manifests with psychosis for at least six months. It affects about 1 in 200 Americans.

Psychosis may include hallucinations, i.e. seeing or hearing things that others do not experience, as well as delusions, i.e. beliefs that are not based in reality. The exact content of hallucinations or delusions is different for each individual.

Bipolar Disorder

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), bipolar disorder affects 4.4% of adults and 2.9% of adolescents and refers to extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that limit one's ability to function.

Bipolar disorder used to be called manic-depressive disorder due to the periods of mania and depression that characterize the condition. This term is no longer used, in part because the name overemphasized the prominence of mania as a symptom, which illustrates how our understanding of mental health has evolved with time.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The Cleveland Clinic describes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as a mental health condition with uncontrollable fears, thoughts, and urges. People with OCD often try to reduce their anxiety with compulsive behaviors. OCD impacts about 1% of American folx.

Obsessive thoughts that cause extreme anxiety may include a fear of germs, a need for organization, or intrusive thoughts they find disturbing. Compulsions may include counting or repeating tasks.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

According to the NIH, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) impacts about 6.8% of the American population. It can develop following a traumatic event, such as being a victim of a hate crime.

PTSD symptoms may include nightmares, flashbacks, sleep difficulties, etc., which can make it challenging to maintain functioning at school or work.

Mental Health America describes complex PTSD (C-PTSD) as a kind of PTSD that can develop after long-term trauma, including white supremacist harassment, queer-antagonism, transphobia, domestic abuse, etc.

C-PTSD affects people in seven domains:

  • Attachment
  • Biology
  • Emotional regulation
  • Dissociation
  • Behavioral control
  • Thinking
  • Self-concept

C-PTSD often overlaps with other mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, etc.

Borderline Personality Disorder

The Cleveland Clinic describes borderline personality disorder (BPD) as a mental health condition with difficulty regulating emotions, which can make it challenging to maintain relationships.

BPD is estimated to affect up to 6% of Americans, and it is more likely if you have a family history of this condition or if you have another mental health diagnosis, such as anxiety.

Eating Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders refer to serious mental health conditions that cause extreme disturbances to the eating behaviors of folx and can include obsessions with food.

Binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa are the most common. More often than not, these eating disorders occur alongside other mental health conditions. These three diagnoses were most likely to overlap with an anxiety disorder.

Binge eating disorder includes episodes of eating in excess due to a loss of control and is accompanied by distress, which impacts about 1.2% of adults in the American population.

Bulimia nervosa refers to binge eating followed by purging, fasting, excessive exercise, etc. Bulimia nervosa affects about 0.3% of American adults, whose weight can often fall within healthy limits.

Anorexia nervosa manifests as an extreme reduction in food intake, accompanied by distorted body image and severe fears of weight gain.

For those dealing with anorexia nervosa, folx can view themselves as overweight even when malnourished, which can contribute to a vicious cycle of further disordered eating patterns. It affects about 0.6% of adults in the American population.

A Word From Verywell

If you are concerned about your mental health, it can be beneficial to connect with a therapist to better understand your psychiatric needs. While this may feel intimidating to confront, seeking mental health support early can help to address concerns most effectively.

For some folx, it may be easier to discuss mental health issues with a loved one or trusted family doctor first, and they can assist in accessing treatment that is a good fit.

When exploring options for appropriate care, it may feel overwhelming, especially given the stigma of psychiatric conditions. Despite these challenges, mental health treatment can be well worth the effort, as it deserves at least as much attention as your physical health to maintain your functioning.

It can take significant time and work to manage mental health challenges, but the benefits for those impacted and their loved ones cannot be underscored. Hopefully, as mental health continues to be discussed more openly, and treated more effectively, further strides will be made to address stigma.

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Article Sources
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  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Published September 2020.

  2. The Cleveland Clinic. Anxiety disorders. Updated December 17, 2020.

  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Depression. 2021.

  4. The Cleveland Clinic. Schizophrenia. Updated February 2, 2018.

  5. National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar disorder. Updated November 2017.

  6. The Cleveland Clinic. Obsessive compulsive disorder. Updated December 31, 2020.

  7. National Institute of Mental Health. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Updated November 2017.

  8. Mental Health America. What is complex PTSD?. 2020.

  9. The Cleveland Clinic. Borderline Personality Disorder. Updated December 17, 2020.

  10. National Institute of Mental Health. Eating disorders. Updated November 2017.