Mental Health Disorders Go Untreated in Many Adults

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The majority of people with depression, anxiety, or substance abuse have not received treatment for their illnesses, according to a 2019 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Results of the study, based on a 2012–2013 national survey of more than 36,000 U.S. adults, revealed that 4,849 (13 percent) had a mood disorder (depression or bipolar disorder), 4,570 (13 percent) had an anxiety disorder (panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or a specific phobia), and 10,598 (29 percent) had a substance use disorder.

More than one-third of people with a mood disorder (1,843) had received medication or counseling for their condition over the year prior to being surveyed, whereas less than one-quarter of people with an anxiety disorder (1,097) or a substance use disorder (2,014) had received treatment. Among adults with substance abuse disorders, even those who were treated for a coexisting anxiety or mood disorder had not received treatment for substance abuse.

People without insurance coverage were especially unlikely to have received treatment for a mood or anxiety disorder. Men were less likely than women to seek treatment for a mood disorder, and minority racial and ethnic groups were less likely to receive treatment for depression.

The study authors emphasize the importance of destigmatizing treatment for mental health problems, making treatment affordable, and having enough trained professionals to help.