Slate ^ | April 12, 2013 | Robin S. Rosenberg
Posted on Monday, April 15, 2013 11:28:25 AM by neverdem
Although fewer than 6 percent of American adults will have a severe mental illness in a given year, according to a 2005 study, many more—more than a quarter each year—will have some diagnosable mental disorder.
That’s a lot of people.
Almost 50 percent of Americans (46.4 percent to be exact) will have a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetimes, based on the previous edition, the DSM-IV. And the new manual will likely make it even “easier” to get a diagnosis.
If we think of having a diagnosable mental illness as being under a tent, the tent seems pretty big. Huge, in fact. How did it happen that half of us will develop a mental illness? Has this always been true and we just didn’t realize how sick we were—we didn’t realize we were under the tent? Or are we mentally less healthy than we were a generation ago? What about a third explanation—that we are labeling as mental illness psychological states that were previously considered normal, albeit unusual, making the tent bigger. The answer appears to be all three.
First, we’ve gotten better at detecting mental illness and doing so earlier in the course of the illness. For decades, mental health clinicians, physicians, the U.S. surgeon general’s office, and various state and local agencies have been advocating for better detection of mental illness. If we are better at spotting it, we can treat it. And if we detect it earlier, we can, hopefully, intervene to reduce the intensity and/or frequency of symptoms. For instance, people who decades ago may have had undiagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, or substance abuse are now more likely to have their problems recognized and diagnosed. But the increased awareness and detection translates into a higher rate of mental illness.
Second, we really are getting…
(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com …