Why Life in America Can Literally Drive You Insane
Severe, disabling mental illness has dramatically increased in the Untied States. Marcia Angell, in her 2011 New York Review of Books piece, summarizes: “The tally of those who are so disabled by mental disorders that they qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) increased nearly two and a half times between 1987 and 2007—from 1 in 184 Americans to 1 in 76. For children, the rise is even more startling—a thirty-five-fold increase in the same two decades.”
Angell also reports that a large survey of adults conducted between 2001 and 2003 sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health found that at some point in their lives, 46% of Americans met the criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association for at least one mental illness.
I can only speak from personal experience. While 5 of my 8 cousins (plus myself) have been treated for depression and anxiety disorders —nearly all of our parents qualify for some level of alcoholism. I always wonder if the those doing research look to the level of self-medication in past generations or just stick with those who were officially diagnosed and treated during an era in which mental health treatment was taboo.