Mental Illness Will Hit 1 Out of 2 Adults in U.S. – Anxiety Not Well Tracked

I have spent nearly a lifetime trying to understand, manage and fix the human mind. The mind fascinates, torments, inspires, belittles, loves, and elevates. So it was with great interest that I read that the CDC came out with a new report on mental illness, including anxiety and depression.

Mental illness, anxiety, depression affect 50% of US Adults

The Center for Disease Control just released their report, Mental Illness Surveillance Among Adults in the United States (September 2, 2011), outlining  the tremendous reach that mental illness has into my life, your life and every other life in the United States of America.

Some highlights from the report

In the United States, the economic impact of mental illness  is enormous, roughly $300 billion in 2002. No more recent numbers are available, but the cost is rising.

Approximately 25% of adults in the U.S. have a mental illness. That means one out of every four individuals are dealing with some form of mental illness (e.g., anxiety, depression, other mood disorders, psychosis, OCD, ADHD, personality disorders, etc.). The report defines mental illness as all diagnosable mental disorders. Effects of mental illness may involve chronic abnormal thoughts, moods, or behaviors associated with distress and impaired  functioning. The effects of mental illnesses include disruptions of daily function; incapacitating personal, social, and occupational impairment; and premature death. The most common ones are anxiety and mood disorders (e.g., depression and bipolar disorder).

Almost 50% of American adults will experience at least one mental illness in their lifetime.

Mental illness leads to more disability than any other group of illnesses. More than even heart disease and cancer!
Anxiety disorders anger management classes
The Mental Impacts the Physical and Vice-versa

Most mental illnesses are fundamentally intertwined with chronic medical disorders like heart disease, addiction and obesity. So the manner in which our mind works dramatically impacts how well your body works.

Mental illness is a massive public health problem. Check out these facts from the World Health Organization…

  • ‘mental illness is associated with increased occurrence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, epilepsy, and cancer;
  • mental illness is associated with lower use of medical care, reduced adherence to treatment therapies for chronic diseases, and higher risks of poor health outcomes;
  • mental illness is associated with use of cigarettes, chewing tobacco and abuse of alcohol;
  • rates for both intentional (e.g., homicide, suicide) and unintentional (e.g., motor vehicle) injuries are 2 to 6 times higher among people with a mental illness than in the population overall;
  • many mental illnesses can be managed successfully, and increasing access to and use of mental health treatment services could substantially reduce the associated death rate and
  • many chronic illnesses are associated with mental illnesses, and it’s been shown that treatment of mental illnesses associated with chronic diseases can reduce the effects of both and support better outcomes.’

Interestingly, there are currently no efforts at the national or state level to track anxiety disorders. Yet, anxiety disorders occur just as frequently as depression.
What’s more, anxiety disorders are similar to depression in that they

  1. negatively impact daily functioning as much as depression,
  2. are closely tied to the stress response system in the body,
  3. have similar negative effects on physical health, and
  4. are frequently found to exist together with the same physical illnesses as those that exist in folks who suffer from depression.

In conclusion, it appears that we are lagging in monitoring the prevalence of anxiety and providing assistance for those who struggle with anxiety. Mental illness is just beginning to get adequate exposure so that we can continue to develop cutting-edge tools and technologies to help those who suffer from it. We can no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the compounding costs of mental illness. It is time to bring mental illness into the light where it can be appropriately identified and treated without shame.

What are your thoughts on this CDC report?

How have you been affected by mental illness in your life?

Please leave a comment below to get the conversation started!

All the best,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Founder, Guide to Self, Inc.

Award-winning author of Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought (for a free PDF version, visit and enter your name and email address)

Award-winning blogger on The Shrunken Mind – a top 3 blog on positive psychology

Free online anger management classes which incorporate humor and positive psychology at


Obesity May Rise to 42% of United States Population – New Harvard Study


CHICAGO (Reuters) – Americans will keep growing fatter until 42 percent of the nation is considered obese, and having fat friends is part of the problem, researchers said on Thursday.

The prediction by a team of researchers at Harvard University contradicts other experts who say the nation’s obesity rate has peaked at 34 percent of the U.S. population.

The finding is from the same group, led by Nicholas Christakis, that reported in 2007 that if someone’s friend becomes obese, that person’s chances of becoming obese increase by more than half.

They now think this same phenomenon is driving the obesity epidemic, which will climb slowly but steadily for the next 40 years.

For a free PDF copy of John’s award-winning self-help book, Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought, visit and enter your email address!

Alison Hill, a graduate student at Harvard and the Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology, said the study is based on the idea that obesity can spread like an infectious disease and people can catch it from their friends.

For the study, she and colleagues applied a mathematical model to four decades of data from the long-running Framingham study — a study of the health and habits of nearly an entire town in Massachusetts.

“We looked at the probability of becoming obese and what that was influenced by,” Hill said in a telephone interview.

“We found there is some baseline risk of becoming obese based on the friends you have,” Hill said.

Hill said that based on their calculations and looking at the influence of social interactions on obesity in the Framingham study, they think the U.S. obesity rates will top out at 42 percent of the population.

Over the long-running study, the rate of weight gain caused by social interaction — a person’s contact with friends who are obese — has grown quite rapidly since 1971, Hill said.

“It looks like obesity is becoming more infectious,” said Hill. The findings are reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Computational Biology.

For the full article, click here.

To life, love and laughter,

 John Schinnerer Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

Over 40% of Youths With Eating Disorders Cutting and Burning Self – Stanford Study

From ScienceDaily…

Self-mutilation cutting behaviors over 40% in eating disordered youths

ScienceDaily (Oct. 7, 2010) — An alarming number of adolescents already battling eating disorders are also intentionally cutting themselves, and health-care providers may be failing to diagnose many instances of such self-injury, according to a new study from Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

The researchers found that 40.8 percent of patients with eating disorders in their study had documented incidents of intentionally harming themselves, most often by cutting and burning. What’s more, the study suggests that inadequate clinical screening might mean the count should be much higher.

“These are very high numbers, but they’re still conservative estimates,” said the study’s lead author, Rebecka Peebles, MD, who was an instructor in pediatrics at Stanford when the research was conducted and is joining the faculty at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Peebles noted that clinicians aren’t routinely asking about this activity. “We ask 97 percent of children 12 years and up if they smoke cigarettes; we need to get that good with screening for self-injurious behavior,” she said.

The study is to be published online Oct. 8 in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Its senior author is James Lock, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of pediatrics. He is also psychiatric director of the Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program at Packard Children’s Hospital.

To conduct the study, the researchers examined the intake evaluation records of 1,432 patients, ages 10-21, who were admitted to the hospital’s eating disorders program from January 1997 through April 2008. Just over 90 percent of all the patients were female, three-quarters of them white, with a mean age of 15. Among the 40.8 percent identified to be physically harming themselves, the mean age was 16. Many of these patients had a history of binging and purging, and 85.2 percent of the self-injurers were cutting themselves.

The researchers also discovered that slightly fewer than half the charts showed that health-care providers had asked patients if they intentionally injured themselves. If patients aren’t asked, they are unlikely to volunteer such information, said Peebles.

Those who were questioned tended to fit previously published profiles of a self-injurer: older, white, female, suffering from bulimia nervosa, or with a history of substance abuse. “The question is, ‘Are we missing other kids who are not meeting this profile?'” Peebles said. “This is part of why we wanted to look at this. If you see an innocent-looking 12-year-old boy, you don’t even think of asking about self-injurious behavior. We need to get much better about universal screening.”

Peebles noted that the profile itself might be flawed. If health-care workers only ask a certain type of patient about a behavior, the profile that emerges will necessarily reflect that bias, she said.

The study did not examine the reasons behind such acts but Peebles said her clinical experience suggested patients “are trying to feel pain.”

“Patients describe a feeling of release that comes when they cut or burn themselves,” she said. “They’ll cut with a razor or a scissor blade. Sometimes we’ve even had kids who will take the tip of a paper clip and gouge holes. To burn themselves, they’ll heat up a metal object and press it to their skin, or they’ll use cigarettes.”

Physicians and other health-care providers at Packard’s Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program now question all new patients about self-injurious behavior. Studies have shown that between 13 and 40 percent of all adolescents engage in some form of self-injury, which is also associated with a higher risk of suicide.

“In clinical practice, kids are fairly open when you engage with them,” Peebles said. “They’ll come in wearing long sleeves, or hiding the marks on their inner thighs. But then when you ask them, they are usually willing to discuss the behavior.”

For full article, click here.

Please Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

I’ve witnessed cutting behaviors on the rise in my practice, particularly in those with borderline personality disorder and eating disorders. I recall it was shock when I first encountered cutting with one of my own family  members nearly 20 years ago. Now I’m seeing it much more frequently. In fact, some high school students are trying to help friends on their own with cutting behaviors. In one case, a high school student who was cutting was encouraged to go to her parents for help. The parent responded by yelling at the child ‘You can’t feel that way. We have a $2 million house. You have everything you could ever want. That’s ridiculous!’

Sometimes cries for attention are really cries for attention and need to be listened to with compassion. Then address them by seeking out professional help.

John Schinnerer Ph.D.

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

For a free copy of John’s award-winning book on emotional management, visit You can get an instant PDF copy in exchange for your name and email address!

 MLA Stanford University Medical Center (2010, October 7). Self-injury behavior not recognized in many youths with eating disorders. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 8, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/10/101007184116.htm