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


Want to Reduce Your Social Anxiety? Increase Your Salt Intake!

For those of you who have seen me speak, teach, or who know me personally, you are well aware that social anxiety is a genetic predisposition that I have learned to manage in my own life. I have learned and teach clients scientifically-proven tools to manage anger and anxiety, such as mindfulness, self-compassion, forgiveness, if-then thinking statements, and more.

Social anxiety is a topic that is very  near and dear to my heart because I have suffered the emotional distress that comes with it.

So I was quite excited to see this study which came out today that shows that higher levels of salt in the diet, while having other negative effects on the body, actually has a positive impact on those of us with social anxiety.

This study demonstrated that higher levels of sodium are associated with increased production of oxytocin (which leads to increased trust, rapport, caring, and connection) and decreased levels of pro-stress hormone angiotensin II. So higher levels of sodium actually decrease the painful feelings of social anxiety!

From an evolutionary perspective this makes tremendous sense. Imagine you are on the plains of Africa, millions of years ago, and you and your tribe are suffering from thirst and dehydration (and sodium levels are rising in the body). In this scenario, an increased level of cooperation and trust is necessary so that everyone in the tribe can get to water and share the water so everyone’s chances of survival increase.

Dying of thirst for connection

Dying of thirst for social connection? Must have oxytocin…


Higher Levels of Sodium Reduce Your Response to Stress, Study Shows

ScienceDaily (Apr. 5, 2011) — All those salty snacks available at the local tavern might be doing more than increasing your thirst: They could also play a role in suppressing social anxiety.

New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) shows that elevated levels of sodium blunt the body’s natural responses to stress by inhibiting stress hormones that would otherwise be activated in stressful situations. These hormones are located along the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which controls reactions to stress.
The research is reported in the April 6, 2011, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

“We’re calling this the Watering Hole Effect,” says Eric Krause, PhD, a research assistant professor in the basic science division of UC’s department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience and first author of the study. “When you’re thirsty, you have to overcome some amount of fear and anxiety to approach a communal water source. And you want to facilitate those interactions — that way everyone can get to the water source.”

Krause and his team dehydrated laboratory rats by giving them sodium chloride, then exposed them to stress. Compared with a control group, the rats that received the sodium chloride secreted fewer stress hormones and also displayed a reduced cardiovascular response to stress.

“Their blood pressure and heart rate did not go up as much in response to stress as the control group’s, and they returned to resting levels more quickly,” says Krause.

“Also, in a social interaction paradigm with two rats interacting, we found them to be more interactive and less socially anxious.”

Further research, through examination of brain and blood samples from the rats, showed that the same hormones that act on kidneys to compensate for dehydration also act on the brain to regulate responsiveness to stressors and social anxiety.

The elevated sodium level, known as hypernatremia, limited stress responses by suppressing the release of the pro-stress hormone angiotensin II. Conversely, it increased the activity of oxytocin, an anti-stress hormone.

Further research, Krause says, will examine these hormones and neurocircuits to investigate their role in social anxiety disorders and autism, a neurological disorder whose characteristics include social impairment.

Oxytocin deficiency has been implicated in autism in previous studies,” says Krause. “We’d like to investigate the possibility that dysregulation in fluid balance during pregnancy could result in autistic disorders.”


If you would like a FREE PDF copy of John’s award-winning book on managing anxiety and creating more positive emotions in your life, simply visit, click on the yellow book icon in the top left corner of the page, then enter your name and email address on the following page. You will be immediately sent an email and given instant access to your copy of Guide to Self: The Beginner’s Guide to Managing Emotion and Thought.  This award-winning self-help book is filled with the latest in scientifically proven tools and tips to help you manage anxiety, depression and anger. It also is loaded with tips and techniques to teach you cutting-edge ways to insert more positive emotions and thoughts in your life.

To life, love and laughter!

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Award-winning author and blogger

Founder Guide to Self, Inc.

Anger Management Coach

San Francisco Bay Area

Danville, CA

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center, via ScienceDaily and EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
Journal Reference:
1. E. G. Krause, A. D. de Kloet, J. N. Flak, M. D. Smeltzer, M. B. Solomon, N. K. Evanson, S. C. Woods, R. R. Sakai, J. P. Herman. Hydration State Controls Stress Responsiveness and Social Behavior. Journal of Neuroscience, 2011; 31 (14): 5470 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6078-10.2011

FREE Copy of the Best Self Help Book of the Year!

I’m kicking off the launch of my new video blog at And to make the announcement fun for all, I thought I’d offer a FREE copy of my book Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought.

It’s all about how to quiet the voices in your head, turn down the volume on negative emotions and turn up the volume on positive emotions, click here for instant access!

So if you want a free PDF version of some of the latest proven tools to manage your mind, the latest methods to increase your happiness via positive psychology, the greatest tips to manage your anger, check it out! Click here for a fantastic freebie!



Childhood Depression and Anxiety Reduces Chance at Happy Thriving Adult Life

Childhood Psychological Difficulties Reduce Earning Potential and Odds of Getting Married

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Guide To Self, Inc.

 A unique, new, longitudinal study found that there is a tremendous blow to the earning ability of adults who suffered from childhood psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. What’s more, the study found that, upon becoming adults, such children have less chance of getting married, achieve less educationally, and earn roughly 20% less across the course of their lifetime. By adversely impacting their earning potential, the long-term financial consequences of childhood psychological disturbances exceeds $2.1 trillion dollars when summed across the lifetimes of all such U.S. citizens. The study comes out in the June 2010 issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.

‘Childhood psychological disorders can cause significant long-lasting harm and can have far-reaching impact on individuals over their lifetimes,’ stated James P. Smith, the study’s head researcher and corporate chair of economics at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. The study points out the tremendous benefit ‘of identifying and treating these problems early in life.’

The data comes from a massive study which tracked U.S. families for 40 years and found that childhood psychological disorders adversely impact some major indicators of success and happiness in life. The design of the study is unique in that siblings from the same family were tracked over time. Then, those siblings who had a childhood psychological disorder were compared to a sibling who did not have a psychological difficulty.

Siblings with depression, anxiety, rage, ADHD or a substance abuse disorder as a child earned $10,400 less per year on average as compared to siblings who did not have any such problem.

The study also reports that individuals who had childhood psychological difficulties had an 11% reduced chance of marrying than their siblings who did not report psychological problems.

An additional interesting finding is that those who had childhood psychological difficulties stopped their education a half year earlier than those who did not report such difficulties. The gap in education was even bigger for those who had drug or alcohol problems.

‘Not all of the people who have psychological problems during childhood will carry these problems into adulthood,’ stated Smith. ‘But they are 10 to 20 times more likely than others to have these shortfalls during adulthood. There clearly are large economic costs during adulthood caused by childhood psychological conditions.’

The ongoing study involves a nationally representative sample of over 35,000 people from roughly 5,000 U.S. families spanning the past 40 years. Approximately 6% of the participants stated they had some sort of psychological difficulty as a child. This is consistent with the percentage of children with a psychological disturbance across the United States. Roughly 4% of the participants reported suffering from childhood depression. Two percent stated they had substance abuse issues as a child. And another 2% reported having another psychological issue, such as anxiety or extreme anger. Some participants had coexisting disorders (e.g., depression and substance abuse issues).

The take home message here is the urgency of proper early intervention. For a thriving and productive life, psychological issues need to be identified and treated early in life.

About the Author

Dr. John Schinnerer is in private practice helping executives, adults, and teens learn anger management, stress management and the latest ways to deal with destructive negative emotions. He also helps clients discover satisfaction with life via positive psychology. His practice is located in Danville, California. He graduated summa cum laude from U.C. Berkeley with a Ph.D. in psychology. He is collaborating with the University of New Zealand on the International Wellbeing Study to look at what we do right and what make for a meaningful, thriving life. Dr. Schinnerer has been a speaker, executive and psychologist for over 10 years. Dr. John Schinnerer is Founder of Guide To Self, a company that coaches clients to their potential using the latest in positive psychology. Dr. John Schinnerer hosted over 200 episodes of Guide To Self Radio, a prime time radio show, in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Dr. Schinnerer’s areas of expertise range from positive psychology, to emotional awareness, to moral development, to executive coaching core competencies. Dr. Schinnerer wrote the award-winning, “Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion and Thought,” which is available at His blog, Shrunken Mind, was recently recognized as one of the top 3 in positive psychology on the web (

Teen Stress Connected To Depression And Obesity Recent Penn State Study

This past weekend, I presented at a Parenting Conference on Strengths-Based Approaches to parenting. At the conference, a new film, The Race to Nowhere, was screened.The movie brought up a number of pertinent issues regarding the educational system in the United States…



The creation of high degrees of chronic stress in all ages of students (but not all students) due to excessive homework demands.


The excessive homework load seems to be largely due to curriculum which has been pushed down to lower and lower grade, often to the point where the academic requirements are mismatched with the developmental stage of the student.


The well being and happiness of students are not considered relevant in the current educational system.


The current system puts students into a constant forward-looking race to get to the next stage of education. For instance, sixth graders are looking at which foreign language classes to take to get into college; 7th & 8th graders are focused on what to do now to get into the advanced track classes in high school; many high school students are continually focused on what they can do in terms of extracurriculars and AP grades to get into the ‘right’ colleges.


Once in college, students are finding they never learned how to think critically on their own. Rather they were taught to regurgitate facts to do well on standardized tests which assess only a fraction of the whole child’s abilities and skills. 


At some point, many of these students are running headlong into a period of purposelessness and some are even dropping out of college due to depression, anxiety and hopelessness. If you are interested in finding out more about the movie, check out their site at



Today, I came across a new study out of Penn State which shows a link between adolescent stress, depression and obesity. Below is a review on the study borrowed from a fantastic psychology site


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 25, 2010


Obesity is a disturbing worldwide trend. In fact, researchers say the effects are so pervasive that unless the issue is controlled, children born today will not live longer than their parents.

A new research finding provides insight on how a mental health issue may trigger obesity among adolescents. In the study, researchers discovered depression raises stress hormone levels in adolescent boys and girls. And, among girls, the stress hormones may lead to obesity.

Accordingly, early treatment of depression could help reduce stress and control obesity.


Cortisol, a hormone, regulates various metabolic functions in the body and is released as a reaction to stress. Researchers have long known that depression and cortisol are related to obesity, but they had not figured out the exact biological mechanism.

Although it is not clear why high cortisol reactions translate into obesity only for girls, scientists believe it may be due to physiological and behavioral differences (in girls, estrogen release and stress eating) in the way the two genders cope with anxiety.

“The implications are to start treating depression early because we know that depression, cortisol and obesity are related in adults,” said Susman.

If depression were to be treated earlier, she noted, it could help reduce the level of cortisol, and thereby help reduce obesity.

“We know stress is a critical factor in many mental and physical health problems,” said Susman.

“We are putting together the biology of stress, emotions and a clinical disorder to better understand a major public health problem.”

Susman and her colleagues Lorah D. Dorn, professor of pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and Samantha Dockray, postdoctoral fellow, University College London, used a child behavior checklist to assess 111 boys and girls ages 8 to 13 for symptoms of depression.

Next they measured the children’s obesity and the level of cortisol in their saliva before and after various stress tests.


Statistical analyses of the data suggest that depression is associated with spikes in cortisol levels for boys and girls after the stress tests, but higher cortisol reactions to stress are associated with obesity only in girls. The team reported its findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“In these children, it was mainly the peak in cortisol that was related to obesity,” Susman explained. “It was how they reacted to an immediate stress.”

Source: Penn State University

For full article, click here.

Have a wonderful and stress-free week!

All the best,

John Schinnerer, Ph.D.

Positive Psychology Coach

Author of the award-winning book Guide To Self:

The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion & Thought Guide To Self, Inc.

913 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #280

Danville CA 94526

(925) 575-0258 – Web site – Award-winning Blog

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