Navigation Links
Common mental disorders may be more common than we think

DURHAM, N.C. -- The prevalence of anxiety, depression and substance dependency may be twice as high as the mental health community has been led to believe.

It depends on how one goes about measuring.

Duke University psychologists Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi and colleagues from the United Kingdom and New Zealand used a long-term tracking study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 32 to reach the conclusion that people vastly underreport the amount of mental illness they've suffered when asked to recall their history years after the fact.

But such self-reporting from memory is the basis of much of what we know about the prevalence of anxiety, depression, alcohol dependence and marijuana dependence. Longitudinal studies like the Dunedin Study in New Zealand that track people over time are rare and expensive, Moffitt said.

"If you start with a group of children and follow them their whole lives, sooner or later almost everybody will experience one of these disorders," said Moffitt, the Knut Schmitt-Nielsen professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke.

The Great Smoky Mountains Study, a similar effort based at Duke, has tracked 1,400 American children from age 9-13 into their late 20s and found similar patterns, said Jane Costello, a professor medical psychology at Duke who runs the study.

"I think we've got to get used to the idea that mental illness is actually very common," Costello said. "People are growing up impaired, untreated and not functioning to their full capacity because we've ignored it."

The prevalence of mental illness has been hotly debated by policy makers and mental health providers for many years. The pharmaceutical and health insurance industries also have a stake in the debate, Moffitt said.

The best retrospective studies, the US National Comorbidity Surveys (NCS) and the New Zealand Mental Health Survey, have found the incidence of depression from ages 18 to 32 at a rate of about 18 percent. But they have been roundly criticized by some for their rates being too high. The latest analysis from the Dunedin Study found 41 percent of that age range had experienced clinically significant depression.

Similarly, the survey studies have reported a 6 to 17 percent lifetime rate of alcohol dependence between ages 18-32, versus nearly 32 percent in the Dunedin Study.

Guidelines published by the American Psychiatric Association that set the bar for defining what is and isn't a treatable illness are currently being revised by a rewriting of the authoritative Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). But given the findings of these longitudinal studies, the stringency of the diagnostic criteria might need to be reconsidered, said Moffitt, who is on the committee writing the new DSM-Vstandards.

"Researchers might begin to ask why so many people experience a disorder at least once during their lifetimes and what this means for the way we define mental health, deliver services and count the economic burdens of mental illness," Moffitt said.

On the one hand, it could be argued that the diagnostic standards have been set too low if so many people can be considered mentally ill. On the other hand, perhaps these findings argue for more and better mental health care because the disorders are more common than anyone had realized.

"There are two opposing camps, and I'm agnostic about that," Moffitt said.

At the very least, maybe these findings can help reduce the stigma against mental illness and mental health care, Moffitt added. New Zealand, for example, has begun a new campaign of public service announcements featuring sports heroes saying they've experienced mental health issues.

"If we're serious about this problem, we need to get serious about preventing it," Costello added. "We do know a lot more about prevention now."


Contact: Karl Leif Bates
Duke University

Related medicine news :

1. Select Medical Holdings Corporation Commences Initial Public Offering of Common Stock
2. Link found between common sexual infection and risk of aggressive prostate cancer
3. Major clinical study rejects cancer safety fears of most common heartburn treatment
4. Driving After Binge Drinking More Common Than Believed
5. Narconon Launches Operation Medicine Cabinet in Georgia - Prescription Drugs Commonly Abused Targeted
6. Study reveals how a common virus eludes the immune system
7. More Than Four Out of Five Dentists Surveyed Reveal That Texting During Dental Treatment a Common Problem
8. Cardiome Pharma Corp. Announces Tender Offer To Purchase Up To US$27.5 Million Of Its Common Shares
9. Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Common Blood Disorder May Not be Linked to as Many Serious Diseases, as Previously Thought
10. Acupuncture may bring relief for a common condition in women
11. Common variation in gene linked to structural changes in the brain
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... , ... There is only one major question facing all law firms in ... question has not been an easy question to answer. Especially when the senior partners ... workforce don’t share the same discipline around working long hours. , In addition ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... ... According to an article published November 15th by ABC News, ... in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, other cities are taking extra ... from reaching U.S. soil. Especially around special events that may be high-profile in nature, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 27, 2015 , ... An inventor, from Hopkinsville, Ky., thought ... at home, so he invented the patent-pending ELECTRONIC M.D. , The ELECTRONIC M.D. ... doing so, it could help to prevent potential overdose situations. As a result, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... The print ... USA Today in Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Minneapolis, South Florida, with a circulation ... is distributed nationally, through a vast social media strategy and across a network ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... motto of progress through sharing, the 2016 Building Better Radiology Marketing Programs ... conference will begin on Sunday, March 6, 2016, at Caesars Palace in Las ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... the "2016 Future Horizons and Growth ... Testing Market: Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, ... their offering. --> ) ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 ... the  "2016 Future Horizons and Growth ... Monitoring (TDM) Market: Supplier Shares, Country ...  report to their offering.  --> ... addition of the  "2016 Future Horizons ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 ... of the  "2016 Future Horizons and ... Surface Marker Testing Market: Supplier Shares, ... their offering.  --> ... the  "2016 Future Horizons and Growth ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: