The Most Common Mental Health Disorders in America

June 3, 2013

Mental health disorders are now the leading cause of disability in the United States. Although these disorders vary in type and severity, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 26.2% of Americans aged 18 and older are diagnosed with a mental health disorder in any given year. That’s one in four adults, or nearly 60 million people. Of all the people who live with a mental health disorder, 45% of them also meet the criteria for 2 or more disorders. One out of 17 people in the general population have a mental health disorder that can be classified as serious.

The Most Common Mental Health Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

According to statistics from NIMH, 18.1% of American adults have an anxiety disorder. This category includes the following disorders:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobias (social phobia, agoraphobia & specific phobias)

Anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with depressive mental health disorders or substance abuse, and most people with one anxiety disorder will also have another anxiety disorder. Most people with an anxiety disorder experience their first episode by the time they are 21 ½ years old, but onset can begin at any age.

Mood Disorders

NIMH estimates that 9.5% of American adults are living with a mood disorder. This includes:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Dysthymic disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

Of these three general types, major depressive disorder is the most prevalent type of mood disorder. It is more common in women than in men, and affects approximately 14.8 million American adults each year. Depressive disorders frequently occur alongside anxiety disorders or substance abuse, and the average age of onset is 30 years old.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders can be very difficult to diagnose, but around 9.1% of American adults fit the clinical criteria for a diagnosis of these mental health disorders, which include:

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder

People with a personality disorder may act dramatically different from others in their culture, sometimes ignoring social rules and norms or disregarding others’ feelings and rights. They may be impulsive or inhibited, but the patterns of behavior are generally fixed and do not seem out of place to the person affected.

Eating Disorders

4.4% of adults in the US, both men and women, are thought to be affected by an eating disorder. There are three primary types of eating disorders:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge-eating

Of these three, binge eating disorder is the most prevalent. Women are more likely than men to have an eating disorder, although both genders are susceptible. NIMH reports that anorexia has a mortality rate of 0.56% each year among females aged 15-24, which is roughly 12 times higher than the annual death rate from all causes among the general population from that age group.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a mental illness and is facing financial obstacles to services, please call us at 1-800-338-5770.  At Guardian Behavioral Health Foundation we provide access to low-cost or no-cost mental health services through a variety of community mental health centers and professionals.  We also offer educational workshops for families and professionals.