Monday, February 25, 2008

Mental Health Disorder in America

Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 22 percent of Americans ages 18 and older—about 1 in 5 adults—suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.(1) When applied to the 1998 U.S. Census residential population estimate, this figure translates to 44.3 million people. (2) In addition, 4 of the 10 leading causes of disability in the U.S. and other developed countries are mental disorders-major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder(3). Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time.

In the U.S., mental disorders are diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV).(4)
Depressive Disorders

Depressive disorders encompass major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is included because people with this illness have depressive episodes as well as manic episodes.

Approximately 18.8 million American adults, 5 or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, 1 have a depressive disorder. Nearly twice as many women (12.0 percent) as men (6.6 percent) are affected by a depressive disorder each year. These figures translate to 12.4 million women and 6.4 million men in the U.S. (5) Depressive disorders may be appearing earlier in life in people born in recent decades compared to the past.(6) Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders and substance abuse.(7)
Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and established market economies worldwide. 3 Major depressive disorder affects approximately 9.9 million American adults,5 or about 5.0 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. 1 Nearly twice as many women (6.5 percent) as men (3.3 percent) suffer from major depressive disorder each year. These figures translate to 6.7 million women and 3.2 million men. 5 While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the average age at onset is the mid-20s. 4
Dysthymic Disorder

Symptoms of dysthymic disorder (chronic, mild depression) must persist for at least 2 years in adults (1 year in children) to meet criteria for the diagnosis. Dysthymic disorder affects approximately 5.4 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older during their lifetime. (1) This figure translates to about 10.9 million American adults. 5 About 40 percent of adults with dysthymic disorder also meet criteria for major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder in a given year. 1 Dysthymic disorder often begins in childhood, adolesc.ence, or early adulthood. (4)
Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.3 million American adults, 5 or about 1.2 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. 1 Men and women are equally likely to develop bipolar disorder5. The average age at onset for a first manic episode is the early 20s.(4)

In 1997, 30,535 people died from suicide in the U.S.8 More than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder, commonly a depressive disorder or a substance abuse disorder. 9 The highest suicide rates in the U.S. are found in white men over age 85. 8 The suicide rate in young people increased dramatically over the last few decades. In 1997, suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds. (8) Four times as many men than women commit suicide; 8 however, women attempt suicide 2-3 times as often as men. (10)

Approximately 2.2 million American adults, 2 or about 1.1 percent of the population age 18 and older in a given year, have schizophrenia. Schizophrenia affects men and women with equal frequency.(11)
Schizophrenia often first appears earlier in men, usually in their late teens or early 20s, than in women, who are generally affected in their 20s or early 30s.(11)
Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and phobias (social phobia, agoraphobia, and specific phobia).

Approximately 19.1 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 13.3 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have an anxiety disorder.(12) Anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with depressive disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse.(7,13) Many people have more than one anxiety disorder.(11) Women are more likely than men to have an anxiety disorder. Approximately twice as many women as men suffer from panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and specific phobia, though about equal numbers of women and men have obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia.(11,14,15)
Panic Disorder

Approximately 2.4 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 1.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have panic disorder. (12) Panic disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood.(11) About 1 in 3 people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia, a condition in which they become afraid of being in any place or situation where escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of a panic attack.(11) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Approximately 3.3 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 2.3 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have OCD. 12 The first symptoms of OCD often begin during childhood or adolescence. (11)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Approximately 5.2 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 3.6 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have PTSD. (12)

PTSD can develop at any age, including childhood.(16) About 30 percent of Vietnam veterans experienced PTSD at some point after the war.(17) The disorder also frequently occurs after violent personal assaults such as rape, mugging, or domestic violence; terrorism; natural or human-caused disasters; and accidents.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Approximately 4.0 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 2.8 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have GAD.(12)

GAD can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age.(11)
Social Phobia

Approximately 5.3 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 3.7 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have social phobia.(12) Social phobia typically begins in childhood or adolescence.(11)
Agoraphobia and Specific Phobia

Agoraphobia involves intense fear and avoidance of any place or situation where escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of developing sudden panic-like symptoms. Approximately 3.2 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 2.2 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have agoraphobia.(12) Specific phobia involves marked and persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation. Approximately 6.3 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 4.4 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have some type of specific phobia.(12)
Eating Disorders

The 3 main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

Females are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia 18 and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder 19 are male. In their lifetime, an estimated 0.5 percent to 3.7 percent of females suffer from anorexia and an estimated 1.1 percent to 4.2 percent suffer from bulimia.(20)

Community surveys have estimated that between 2 percent and 5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a 6-month period.(19,21)
The mortality rate among people with anorexia has been estimated at 0.56 percent per year, or approximately 5.6 percent per decade, which is about 12 times higher than the annual death rate due to all causes of death among females ages 15-24 in the general population.(22)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD, one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents, affects an estimated 4.1 percent of youths ages 9 to 17 in a 6-month period.(23) About 2-3 times more boys than girls are affected(24). ADHD usually becomes evident in preschool or early elementary years. The disorder frequently persists into adolescence and occasionally into adulthood. (25)

Autism affects an estimated 1 to 2 per 1,000 people. (26) Autism and related disorders (also called autism spectrum disorders or pervasive developmental disorders) develop in childhood and generally are apparent by age 3. (27) Autism is about 4 times more common in boys than girls. Girls with the disorder, however, tend to have more severe symptoms and greater cognitive impairment.(27)
Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia among people age 65 and older, affects an estimated 4 million Americans. As more and more Americans live longer, the number affected by Alzheimer's disease will continue to grow unless a cure or effective prevention is discovered. The duration of illness, from onset of symptoms to death, averages 8 to 10 years.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Horse and Rider

Horse and Rider
adapted from an original essay by Dr. Maxie Maultsby

Right after people get started in re-training their emotions, they want to know:

"How long will I have to practice?" The most accurate, honest answer is: 'you'll have to practice as long as it takes for you to get the result you want.'

At first, most people think I'm just trying to be funny when I tell them that. To get them to see that I'm sincere and that it's really helpful to keep that answer in mind, I give them this advice. Think of the thinking part of your brain (your neocortex) as being a rider; and think of the feeling part of your brain (your limbic system) as being a horse.

When you start emotional re-education, your neocortex is like a rider who has ridden his horse up and down the same straight road to work for ten years.
Until now, he could trust the hose to take him to and from work with little or no direct control But recently the rider moved to another part of town. Instead of a straight road to work, he now has to make one right turn on the way out and a left turn on the way back.

From the very first day after the move, the rider (the neocortex) remembers and makes the correct turns without mistakes. But the horse (the limbic system) doesn't. Instead, it has a strong urge to go straight down the road, just as it has for the past ten years. The horse will require time and lots of practice in being guided around the correct turns, before it learns to make them without being directed.

How long will it take before the horse learns to make the correct turns automatically? No one can say beforehand. Every horse differs in its ability to learn. Every rider differs in ability and willingness to teach his horse. The rider who gives his horse the most practice will teach his horse to make the correct turns without direction in the shortest time possible.

The same logic applies to people who are giving themselves a rational emotional re-education. Those who consistently practice the rational self-counseling method of emotional re-education will emotionally re-educate themselves in the shortest time possible. But it will still take as long as it takes.

So if you are persistent in doing what you know is the rational thing to do, even if it doesn't feel right because of old habits (cognitive dissonance, right?), it will eventually become automatic and feel right.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


It feels good to be grateful. I mean, really—It feels really good to be grateful for your life, your family, your friends, the beautiful day, whatever.

I’m sure you have known people in your life that seem to enjoy being miserable, people who can’t see the bright side of a situation even when all the sides are bright. You know the people I’m talking about, the complainers, the be-moaners, the “woe-is-me” people. I can remember a very specific “a-ha” moment when I was watching one of those people. You would have thought that her life was so awful and so sad according to her words and her countenance. But I knew her. I knew she had a pretty good life. Really, she didn’t have many problems. Of course, her life wasn’t perfect but nobody’s is. But rather than focusing on the good things in her life, she focused and remembered the parts that were perhaps not so good.

I can remember making a conscious decision to not be like that, to focus on and remember the good parts of my life. I thought, “I want to be happy, I want other people to be happy around me. I want to be grateful for the life I have instead of bemoaning the life I don’t have”. I may not always reach that goal but my consciousness is there.

So I started focusing on what I could be grateful for. There are so many things. Everybody has something they can be grateful for. There are things we all have in our life that we can be grateful for. Things like good weather, toothpaste and toilet paper. I know the last two seem mundane but if you don’t think you can be grateful for those things, think of the alternative!

Do you realize that in the United States even most of the “poor” people enjoy television sets and DVD players? You can check out almost any book in the world for 2 or 3 weeks at a time for free at your public library. There is an abundance of knowledge and wisdom, happiness and joy everywhere throughout the world. Everyone has some things to be grateful for. Think and focus on those things. Let the other things fall away.

A former acquaintance of mine used to ask me why I was so happy all the time and I told her about being grateful for the things that you have. She said that it was so hard to be grateful and I can remember being shocked. I thought it was easy, fun and it felt good. It didn’t seem hard to me. But I realized that I had made a habit of being grateful for the good things in my life whereas she had made a habit of noticing and focusing on the things she didn’t like, the things she wanted changed, the faults of everyone in her life and even her own faults. It was no wonder she was so unhappy!

I have since learned that my “Attitude of Gratitude” really helps me create the life of my dreams. And again, I am grateful for that. But I also want to express that even if gratitude didn’t help me create my life the way I want it to be, I would practice it anyway, because it feels good. Gratitude feels good and I want to be happy and feel good. Always.

Author: Karen Lynch

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Places to Get Help

Online message boards support communites for alcoholism, addiction and family membeersThe Sober Village

Additional Resources
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD)
22 Cortlandt Street
Suite 801
New York, NY 10007-3128
Phone: 1-800-NCA-CALL (1-800-622-2255)
(212) 269-7797
Fax: (212) 269-7510
Web Address:

NCADD provides facts and scientific information about alcohol and drugs and related health issues, with specific resources for parents and youth. The organization also has a national intervention network and provides information about treatment programs and prevention.

Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters
1600 Corporate Landing Parkway
Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617
Phone: 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) for meeting information
(757) 563-1600
Fax: (757) 563-1655
Web Address:

Al-Anon is a support group and self-help program for family members and friends of people with alcohol and drug use problems. The program is based on the same principles as AA. Phone numbers for local offices are listed in area telephone books.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) World Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 459
New York, NY 10163
Phone: (212) 870-3400
Web Address:

AA is a support group and self-help program for recovery from alcohol use problems as well as other substance abuse problems. Meetings are available in most communities at various times. Meetings can be "open" (for the person and his or her family) or "closed" (for the person only). Special groups for women, teens, and gay/lesbian people may be available in some areas. AA provides written information on the program of recovery. Phone numbers for local offices are listed in local area phone books.

National Association for Children of Alcoholics
11426 Rockville Pike
Suite 301
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 1-888-55-4COAS (1-888-554-2627)
(301) 468-0985
Fax: (301) 468-0987
Web Address:

This national nonprofit organization works on behalf of children of alcoholics. The mission of the organization is to raise public awareness, provide leadership in public policy, and inform and educate academic and other community systems. The organization provides videos, posters, comic books, and guides for teachers and other professionals who work with children.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gene Found for Successful Smoking Cessation

DURHAM, N.C. – Physicians may some day have a new tool for tailoring smoking cessation treatments to a patient's individual genetic makeup.

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center and the National Institute on Drug Abuse scanned the entire genetic makeup, or genome, of smokers and found that variants in 221 genes distinguished smokers who were successful in quitting from those who were not.

"The long-term hope is that identifying these genetic variables in smokers will help us determine which type of treatment would be most effective," said Jed Rose, Ph.D., director of Duke's Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research. "Knowing a smoker's genetic makeup could indicate how intensely they need to be treated. People who are having trouble quitting because of their genes might need more treatment to overcome their addiction."

The results of the research were published online April 2, 2007, in the journal BMC Genetics. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and Philip Morris USA Inc.

"We now have further evidence that there is a biological basis not only for addiction, but for a smoker's ability to successfully beat the addiction," said George Uhl, Ph.D., a neurologist and neuroscientist in the Molecular Neurobiology Branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Uhl's laboratory performed the genetic screening. "It is becoming clear that there is both a biological and an environmental basis to addiction and the ability to quit. Those involved in getting smokers to quit must pay attention to both factors."

The researchers screened 520,000 individual genes taken from blood samples of smokers and nonsmokers. When they compared the genes of smokers with those who had successfully given up the habit, they found clusters of positive results in 221 gene variants present only in the successful quitters.

Uhl said that researchers know the function of 187 of the 221 genes they identified, while the functions of the remaining variants are still to be determined.

"We also found that at least 30 of the genes that we had previously identified as playing roles in dependence to other drugs also contribute to nicotine dependence," Uhl said. "These findings lend further support to the idea that nicotine dependence shares some common genetic vulnerabilities with addictions to other legal and illegal substances."

Some of the specific genes identified might provide insights into why some people appear to have a susceptibility to addiction and why others are more successful in their attempts to quit.

"For example, one of the genes identified controls the production of adhesion molecules, which are crucial in guiding connections between individual nerve cells," Rose said. "Smokers whose nerve cell connections aren't working properly may be more vulnerable to addiction and may face a tougher time quitting. These findings open up new possibilities in finding specific targets for treatment."

Other identified genes play a role in controlling how people respond to stress. Uhl pointed out that one of the genes controls the production of a protein that is important in guiding learning processes in the brain.

The researchers are planning additional studies to try to correlate this new genetic information with how smokers actually respond to the many forms of cessation treatments.

Other members of the team, all from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, were Qing-Roong Liu, Tomas Drgon, Catherine Johnson and Donna Walther.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Reclaiming Yourself

While many resources exist for recovering alcoholics and addicts, none, so far, address the primary feature of all addictions; the state addicts would call, "aloneness"; the state emergence therapists call, "being in shock."

What does "being in shock" have to do with addictions? For one thing, "being in shock" is what puts people at risk for addictions and compulsions. For another, "being in shock" is the source of the addict's 'denial'; a kind of lie the addict believes is true. More important still, when addicts (and therapists who help addicts) see how shock and addictions connect, they gain a clear and blameless path toward "recovery" regardless of which addiction they address.

Of course, recovering from addiction is never easy, be it alcoholism, drug addiction, addiction to gambling, to food, to relationships, or to sex. Even so, when people focus on "being in shock" as the primary feature of addictions, the recovery process happens far more effectively and with greater love and gentleness than is usually thought possible. Even after years of addiction. Even for those with marginal faith.

This part of the emergence site explores additions in general; be it addition to alcohol, to drugs, to relationships, or to gambling. It also explores related conditions such as compulsive eating and dieting, as well as how shock affects risk for and recovery from all these ills. More important still, through out our discussions of these topics, we remain blameless explorers. How? By keeping our focus on the two most important things to know about addition and recovery: on how "being in shock" affects risk for addiction and compulsion. And on how emergence therapy can help people to recover.


Saturday, February 2, 2008



When evening comes, I meditate
on what the day has brought,
and do my best to understand
what lessons I have been taught.

For I believe the reason why
we have been given birth,
is we must meet the challenges
that we face her on earth.

Life isn't just a one-way street
where we can't lift our voices,
from birth until the day we die
we're given many choices.

I have to question, did I try
to really understand,
the needs that someone else may have
and lend a helping hand?

If I will just remember
to light one little spark,
that brightens someone else's life
that otherwise is dark.

Then I can find contentment
in doing what I can,
and knowing there's a reason
I've been chosen for His plan.