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There has been a statistically significant increase in the number of non-elderly reports of depression and other mental health disabilities in the last decade in the United States. According to a study by Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “These findings highlight the needs for improved access to mental health services in our communities and for better integration of these services with primary care delivery. While the trend in self-reported mental health disability is clear, the causes of this trend are not well understood.”
So while the reports of mental health disability increased, they also found the prevalence of disability attributed to other chronic conditions decreased and the prevalence of significant mental distress remained unchanged. They are nor sure why. The self reporting could be based on better awareness of mental health disease and its effects or an increase in mental health disease.
Mojtabai reviewed the medical records of over 312,000 adults. The increase in self reported mental health issues for this sample group was almost 2%. For the population broadly, that increase represents an additional two million adults with concerns about their mental health. The increase was mainly among individuals with significant psychological distress who did not use mental health services in the year prior to reporting symptoms. Financial concern was listed as a primary reason for not seeking help sooner and a concern that had increased over previous years.
Additionally, it appears that non-psychiatric doctors are medicating for psychiatric disorders. Prescriptions for antidepressants without any accompanying psychiatric diagnosis increased more than 30% in the last decade.
Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, MedicalNewsToday
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