Mental illness leading cause of disability in youth
June 6th, 2011
06:45 PM ET

Mental illness leading cause of disability in youth

Mental health problems such as depression account for nearly half of all disability among young people between the ages of 10 and 24, according to a new study from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Researchers looked at data from 191 countries and estimated the number of years of good health lost to disability resulting from disease and injury (known as disability-adjusted life years). Among adolescents and young adults, 45 percent of disability was related to depression, bipolar illness, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders, including alcohol abuse.

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Dr. John S. Santelli, M.D., a professor of population and family health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, in New York City, says that, fortunately, mental health issues at the root of a young person’s disability generally respond to prevention, early detection, and treatment.

"There’s much better behavioral treatments, there’s much better pharmacological treatments as well," says Santelli, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, which was published in the journal The Lancet. "We know what to do. We just need to do it."

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The study was the first ever to look at the international burden of disability in young people. Worldwide, the researchers estimated, disability claimed about 236 million healthy years from this group, which includes both estimated and actual years of life lost to illness and premature death.

After mental disorders, accidental injuries were the second largest cause of disability, accounting for 12 percent, followed by communicable diseases (including HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis) at 10 percent.

The top risk factors for disability were drug and alcohol use, unsafe sex, failure to use birth control, and iron deficiency, a common sign of malnutrition.

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"Youth is considered to be a time of good health," says one of the study's authors, Fiona M. Gore, a WHO researcher in Geneva, Switzerland. However, she says, "important health factors and risk factors for disease in later life emerge in these years "

The study revealed some regional and socioeconomic differences. Compared to the world as a whole, for instance, mental disorders account for a greater proportion of disability in the U.S., in Europe, and in nations with high per-capita income. On the other hand, disability due to injuries and communicable diseases was lower in those countries than worldwide.

"There is a need to focus on prevention strategies and on health promotion of noncommunicable and nonfatal causes of disease in young people," Gore says.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Wendy

    The effectiveness of early intervention and prevention offers further proof that mental illness should be destigmatized once and for all and addiction should not be treated as simply a lack of willpower. Often both substance abuse and mental illness are present and without treating one it is impossible to address the other. If you have enjoyed good health without either or both of these maladies affecting you or someone you love, be thankful.

    June 6, 2011 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wendy

      That should be "regarded as simply a lack of willpower" not "treated".

      June 6, 2011 at 21:49 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreux

      Oh, look, someone thinks she knows better than science and medicine. And Lisa, believing that parents want their children to be abnormal.

      My son's Autistic and we've never taken a cent of government money. He's never been able to find a job but my husband doesn't believe in filing for the Social Security benefits for which he qualifies. I've worked with him full time to shape his actions and behaviours all his life when I would have preferred having a career to staying home with my child.

      Parenting. It's not a job for wusses. My son needs his medications. One kid in 85 now are born with a form of Autism. The numbers are increasing exponentially. No sane parent wants their child to be disabled.

      June 7, 2011 at 00:36 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Chart (excuse the abbreviation, but it's late...),
      I'm a decorated veteran. I salute you and wish I had a medal to pin to your shirt!
      There is no higher honor than to be a parent, at least a dedicated parent.
      There is also no greater chore.
      My wife and I decided before marriage that she would be a stay at home MOM. We BOTH considered that of prime importance.
      The results of our efforts are apparent, one child is now a professional chef, the other a registered nurse with a child of her own.
      There is NO replacing a mother in the home. Ever. An employee, whether it is a nanny or day care provider is NOT a mother to the child, the bond is not there.
      With a challenged child, the duty is trebled. Even worse, the disdain that our medical establishment has shown to the autistic.
      A vast spectrum of disorders is hard to find, save in autism.
      And a less researched field you cannot find, where Downs syndrome is FAR better researched. Repeatedly.
      May you both find a contributing role in our society!
      You have shown one role today, in speaking for those downtrodden.
      May your child find his or her voice and contribution.
      And may we manage that our society gets its head out of its rectum...

      June 7, 2011 at 01:38 | Report abuse |
    • John

      @Charter Autism and mental illness are not the same thing? Autism is a developmental disorder and mental illness often implies psychotic symptoms. I can appreciate your efforts on raising a child with autism. It is not easy task to be sure.

      @Wendy. Shame on you. You are uneducated. Mental illness is not a lack of willpower. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar and I have to take medication for the rest of my life regardless of how much willpower I have or treatment I receive. You are probably one of those people who say, "Snap out of it!".

      June 7, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse |
    • SMS

      John – I believe you read Wendy's post incorrectly. She said addiction should NOT be treated simply as a lack of willpower. About mental illness, she says the stigma associated with it should be removed so that more people can get early intervention and treatment. Please read others' posts fully before lashing insults on them.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:41 | Report abuse |
  2. sunbirdwoman

    What if, instead of assuming that the transition from childhood to adulthood should be as gradual and seamless as possible, we assumed that everybody gets at least a little bit crazy during this period of life (defined, in Western society, as an incredibly prolonged adolescence)? In many traditional (or so-called "primitive") cultures, this transition was managed by traditional rites and rituals. Girls were spirited away when they had their first periods, boys were virtually kidnapped by the tribal elders, and their "coming-of-age" rituals were pretty much designed to make them as crazy as possible (to destroy their previous understanding of the world in which they had lived) - but only for a relatively short, monitored period of tiime.
    Today, we ask our adolescents to make this momentous transition almost alone, without societal.cultural support, and then define them as "ill"when they cannot define themselves or create a functional worldview based solely on their individual resources.
    This is really a very cruel society. In material goods, perhaps, and in opportunities for those who can meet its exacting standards, it is good, but it disposes of many worthwhile human beings by not offering the gentleness, support, and acceptance that they need in order to grow and contribute to our common culture.

    June 6, 2011 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Child, you have a GREAT deal to learn about this world.
      Consider the gradual in nature of the REAL WORLD.
      YOU live an isolated and pleasant life!
      Consider the African villager, whose peers have malaria. Others in the village and even family have Nodding disease. Still others have tapeworms and other parasites. The harvest of off, due to a lack of rain. Hunting is a pain, due to animals dying off from the drought. Goats wander the streets in your village, everyone knows WHO owns that goat, that is food soon, but not for your family. It's not your family goat!
      Some of the village children have been stricken by polio, most will die soon from it.
      YOU are healthy, but hope like hell that you won't get injured or you and your family will starve.

      THAT is the conditions of MUCH of this world. I've personally witnessed it. Where the family would want to slaughter their ONLY animal to feed this stranger, who had rations for two weeks on his back.
      I was unable to dissuade them, so I insisted that the village join in for the feast. A fair amount of that feast came from my rations. I could afford it far better than they and honestly, I couldn't eat later if I didn't do that, at my least.
      So, try traveling the world. Go OUTSIDE of the tourist areas and to the places that are literal hell to us, but a natural environment for the inhabitants.
      Or continue being an idiot.

      June 7, 2011 at 01:46 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie


      Great post– I couldn't agree with you more. We need rituals in this life for coming of age that are distinctly missing in today's western society. Adolescence is drawn out for far too many years and depression comes from limbo and not having a defined role in society where we continue to call 26 year old men and women "kids" if they are unmarried and childless. People scoff at ceremony and formality and old customs, but they play a very important role in mental health.

      June 7, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, look. Valerie's pontificating yet again. Got any evidence that mental illness is 'caused' by extended adolescence?


      June 7, 2011 at 09:11 | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      There are coming-of-age rituals everywhere in the Western world. Communions, Confirmations, Bar/Bat-Mitzvahs, graduations, proms, sweet sixteens, etc. Family and friends are there to help each person along from childhood to adulthood. For some it takes longer than others. For some it is easier than for others. No one is the same. I was the slow grower/smallest kid in my class, slow to physically mature. Therefore I was picked on, last kid picked in gym class, etc. but I turned out just fine. I figured out early on how to deal with it and my place in the world (which was my school). Too many kids want everything handed to them because their mommy said they are the best and the smartest and the prettiest and they can be anything and do anything they want. Now they grow up spoiled, stupid and cannot think for themselves on how to relate to other kids and tough situations. How sad.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
    • ser

      it seems like you just tried to string together some big words and punctuation.
      what the hell are you talking about....crikes

      June 7, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Tom Tom - I have never posted here before. You must have me confused with someone else, and I never gave any causality for mental illness. There are many, many factors, this is only one of them. Another factor is that people often are sarcastic, crass, rude and practically unbearable to one another whether it's on an anonymous forum or talking about people behind their backs or even to their faces. I can list several more if you like.

      This leads me to Fred - yes mothers do tell their children positive things, because in this world, that is about the only place they are going to hear it. I think, however, it is not what parents are saying, it is what they are doing that makes the most mental impact with young adults. Parents tell them they can do anything, yet their actions speak louder than their words. When parents invest themselves in every affair and every decision and do everything for their children, it sends a very clear message that parents think their children are incapable of doing anything for themselves, which is much more damaging, leading to feelings of inadequacy, depression and mental illness.

      Also for other comments on coming of age - proms are a popularity contest, sweet sixteen, drivers license, all of these are milestones not truly coming of age. A coming of age ritual is when society and people treat you differently after the event. A change has been made and your role actually changes. The closest one you listed would be bar / bat mitzvah, but that unfortunately only applies if you are Jewish. 🙂 Weddings are another one, but today the majority of people under 30 are just not getting married. So even that is going by the wayside.

      Knowing your role in society and knowing what in the world you are supposed to do definitely has a lot to do with how happy you are as a person. Yes medication can be helpful but in the end it's important to discuss the roots of the problem and there are many.

      June 7, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • OneOfTHOSEPeople

      So, Valerie and Sun, you think that throwing my kid a party for certain milestones would have prevented illness?

      Yeah–considering some symptoms showed up when my kid was a baby, how would some ritual have changed anything?

      June 8, 2011 at 15:32 | Report abuse |
  3. Lisa

    Tell me how a child that can't work can draw a disability check. Did anyone stop to think....some parent's want their children to be disabled so they can get more money. I am a nurse and worked for a pediatrician for years, only to see more and more parents that don't want to "parent" get their kids on meds for ADD, for normal little kids. Medicate and get a check. It sickens me.

    June 6, 2011 at 23:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      So, Lisa, you wish that a severe Downs syndrome child starve?
      A kid that contracted polio should suffocate?
      A child that suffered a massive brain trauma simply be left to rot?
      May you and your entire family suffer the same fate as your lack of compassion!
      Honestly, if it were in my power, I'd revoke your license, in every state of the union!
      YOU would starve your fellow citizen to death, in your financial mercy, or lack thereof.
      I only lack one piece of information.
      Are you tea party or Libertarian?
      No matter, both act the same way, irresponsible to the weak elements of society.
      Disrespecting veterans, who not only are proficient with automatic arms, but also know WHERE said arms and ordinance are stored...
      So, see your second amendment options.
      We know where ours are.
      And we WILL seek for the corruption of blood. Just because you blame us for what you asked of us., then blamed us for.

      June 7, 2011 at 02:05 | Report abuse |
    • Turtle

      While I'm sure there are parents abusing the system, social security for disabled children is absolutely vital for kids who actually need it. Frequently one income earner will have to give up a job to manage the child's care, and in single parent households that can be absolutely devastating.

      If only families who could afford to independently handle the modern treatment and care costs (in money AND time!) of a truly disabled kid had children the human race would go extinct. That isn't to say there aren't going to be parents who cheat the system, but it isn't like that sort of child abusing welfare fraud style "parent" is the majority.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse |
    • OneOfTHOSEPeople

      Lisa, I agree that you should NOT have a license anymore.

      I only wish I could get all those checks you swear parents are scamming for. Single parent, one job, cr@ppy insurance... All treatment comes out of MY pocket. Right now, my child is in a hospital (court-ordered, but my insurance is getting charges) after going full-tilt crazy last year (INCLUDING attempted murder). When she gets out, I have been told I WILL put her in specific programs, all pretty expensive.

      I would be happy for ANY check, even though SSI still doesn't cover half of what it could.

      To assume that everyone is out to play the system makes your alleged position in the health care profession more than a little suspect.

      June 8, 2011 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
  4. Chartreux

    There's always someone claiming there's a way to overcome depression with 'willpower.' I tried that. I was suicidal and came very close to committing the act. Willpower has nothing to do with feelings. Ofttimes those who claim that willpower saves them have a problem with depression in their own lives.

    It's bad enough to suffer from depression. Where did it come from? I don't know, but it goes back a long way with me. When I was 7 years old my beloved older sister died. As I look back on my childhood i can see that I was depressed at that age at her loss. Yes, children suffer from depression. I certainly did suffer from clinical depression at the age of 7 years, and that depression went on for 10 years.

    My father died when I was 17. These losses set me up to have chronic depression during my life. This wasn't something I wanted nor was it something I asked for, but this is my life experience. Research tells us painful emotional trauma like this can change brain chemistry and cause depression. I'm grateful for the research and the knowledge.

    Hopefully further research will allow medications to be developed which might help younger people who suffer from depression. Right now there are no medications to help them, and it's a shame.

    June 7, 2011 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • iamthefredman

      The fact that you are still alive and did not kill yourself gives proof that you have "willpower" to get over your depression.. I can totally understand why you woudl be depressed with the sad loss of your sister and dad. However, your willpower has saved you so far whether you want to acknowledge it or not. Good luck.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      fredman, you are truly endangering others with your ignorance of depression and anxiety.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse |
    • Me

      The fact that I'm alive doesn't prove I have will power it proves I am a coward who doesn't have enough confidence to believe she could kill herself

      August 7, 2012 at 03:10 | Report abuse |
  5. Nicole

    Only issue is, it's near impossible to find evidence based treatment. Medications, sure, but antipsychotics are overprescribed and for people who really need medications the side effects are too much to bare.. Finding a good therapist is a crapshoot, I know the modalities that work but can't seem to fund a therapist who isn't practicing woo woo therapies like the "emotional freedom technique" and EMDR. And I am so tired of having my atheism treated as a symptom! I was just as anxious and depressed with I believed in the invisible guy in the clouds as I am now And if I find someone decent they either don't take my insurance or they having waiting listsnthat are years long.

    June 7, 2011 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • psychology student

      I hear yah! Try looking on the National Association for CBTtherapists, or nacbt.org (http://nacbt.org/searchfortherapists.asp). These people use evidence based treatment. If they don't take your insurance, try asking for sliding scale or a payment plan. Another option is to get a drastically reduced rate from an advanced, supervised doctoral student or to enter a clinical trial where you get free therapy. (usually already well established therapy). Try looking at nearby university that have clinical psychology programs, that's where you would find reduced price evidence-based therapy. In the meantime, just keep searching and asking for referrals.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
    • TheLeftCoast

      Wow, you're the first person I've ever heard of for whom EMDR didn't heal their trauma. I'm sorry to hear that, and I hope you find something that works for you.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
    • Milareth

      People who have been fortunate to have never suffered Depression should realize that its not "willpower" that keeps depressed persons alive or even functioning at a minimal level; its desperation.

      June 7, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
  6. angela

    I have a child with ADHD and did not get him medicine until he was 7. The doctor said at 6 it would improve his abilities to learn! He was to young in my book so we monitored him and we waited. The best thing I did was get him medicine and at 8 he is doing amazing in school! I also have a son with CP and for anyone to say a parent wants a check etc doesn't look at the parents that DO NOT receive any financial help at all!!!! The parents that do any and everything just for the love they have for their child. I do it all because I love my sons and they are the best thing I have ever done in my life.

    June 7, 2011 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • counseling student

      Kudos for doing the right thing for your child! I hope counseling and parent education is also in the picture. Too many parents don't want to get their child proper help because they don't want to believe that something is wrong with their child.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      What's CP ?

      June 7, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Wow, fred. I'd think a "medical expert" like you would already know. If not, Google is your friend, dear.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:54 | Report abuse |
  7. Bobby

    I would love to see more research into non-drug therapy for depression, esp in children .. Such therapies as counseling/psycotherapy, bio-feedback, diet-amino-acid therapy, acupunture etc.. I'm not saying Anti-depressants don't work for few ( poss placebo effect), but the side-effects and withdrawel from them are extreamly dangerous.. I know drugs companies want to make a profit, but we need to think of people first..

    June 7, 2011 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • psychology student

      There is already a TON of research on non-drug treatments for depression. I will summarize it for you, for mild-moderate cases of depression, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and possibility mindfulness-based therapy help a lot, but for severe cases, medication combined with therapy are usually necessary to achieve significant symptom improvement. If you want more info look on psychcentral.com or the American Psychological Association's website. (Exercise and Omega-3's pretty help everyone with depression as well)

      June 7, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse |
  8. 2ndOpinion

    I'm surprised that they didn't mention hormones as a contributing factor to some of these mental issues in youth. Before you go attacking me, notice I said "some" and not all. Hormones can reek havoc on both the young and the old. Also a big concern I have is the over medicating of people and the effects on the next generation. What kinds of birth defects and new diseases will be in our children 20 years from now because of the prescriptions we take today? Mark my words, disease, mental disability and new diseases will increase dramatically over the next few years and there will just more new drugs to treat those too.

    June 7, 2011 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wndz

      And one of the worse part is many will never be able to stop taking medications. Is very sad

      June 7, 2011 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How do you know that "many will never be able to stop taking medications"?

      June 7, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      I wholeheartedly agree with you 2ndOpinion. All of my anxiety and depression was caused by hormonal issues. It just took me a few years to find a doctor who would work with me to actually figure this out! Very frustrating!! I really do believe that a lot of doctors are in the Big Pharmaceuticals pocket. 9 out of 10 doctors would rather prescribe antidepressants than actually find out what the cause of your depression is.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
    • counseling student

      I am confused, wouldn't your hormone problems also be treated by a drug??? Probably one promoted by big Pharma as well. In many cases NON-DRUG therapy helps with depression, but that isn't the case for any hormonal problem that I know of.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:06 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      No, my hormonal issues were treated with diet changes and supplements.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Such as what, Binky? What hormones are you talking about specifically?

      Do you believe most depression is caused by hormone imbalance? If so, I've got news for you. It isn't. And diet and supplements won't relieve it.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      My anxiety was treated with progesterone cream. No, not all depression and anxiety is caused by a hormonal imbalance, but all of it it caused by a chemical imbalance. Actually, the hormonal link to depression and anxiety in women is very understudied, except in peri- and post-menopausal women. I've been reading articles on this for a very long time for my own wellbeing.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      TomTom is a very angry poster. He needs meds for his mental issues.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:03 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't need meds to tell me that you and Binky are spouting ignorance.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
    • OneOfTHOSEPeople

      Hormones do play a factor, but not the way you think. What tends to happen is that a child with BP or other mental conditions hit adolesence and all heck breaks loose. Hormones, body changes AND mentail illness often combine to create a perfect storm of straight-up insanity. Why? Because there is too much going on for an already-addled brain to handle and the teenager has no way to hold it in as they might have as a younger child.

      Believe me–you DON'T want to deal with a bi-polar teenage girl who is also PMS-ing! Medication is not always able to help that surge.

      June 8, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Wzrd, while you are welcome to make up your own opinions, you are not allowed to make up your own facts. There is no evidence that stay-at-home mothers result in healthier, happier children. It's just not there. Your anecdotes about your life are lovely (sarcasm), but they don't add up to squat. What does matter is statistical evidence, and there isn't a shred that shows kids of stay-at-home mothers do better than those of working mothers.

    Keep your prejudice to yourself, bub.

    June 7, 2011 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SMS

      Many stay-at-home moms are so depressed and unhappy themselves they pass it on to their children. I agree with Tom, using your life experience to generalize for the entire population is extremely ignorant.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse |
  10. Binky42

    The most common mental disorders, depression and anxiety, are usually symptoms of other conditions. Doctors need to stop treating depression and anxiety with pills and look harder for the REAL cause. Treat the condition, not the symptoms!! In my case, it was a hormonal imbalance, but I had to shop around for years to find a doctor who would actually listen to me instead of throwing anti-depressants at me.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • counseling student

      Where is your evidence??? If you claim there is no research into this, you are surelly mistaken. There is TONS of research on everything from Strep-induced OCD to drug-induced psychosis. This is well recognized in the mental health field. Everyone wants to believe that their depression and anxiety is called by something Other than just "mental illness." In some cases this is true and I would encourage anyone who thinks they may have depression to get tested for a whole host of "medical"l causes of anxiety/depression, for example thyroid problems and hormone issues. Any reputable psychiatrist or psychologist would recommend the same. But even if those issues are treated, you may still have depression and anxiety that needs independent treatment. For the majority, an easily resolvable medical issue isn't the only cause of their mental health problems.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      My evidence comes from talking to my doctor and many counselors/therapists/psychiatrists. Depression and anxiety can be caused by either a medical conditional or a situational/environmental factor. Rarely are they ever independent of anything else. They are symptoms, not causes.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:15 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      And sure, they can come from mental illness. My husband is Bi Polar II and suffers from occasional depression even on his medication. But, the Bi Polar disorder is the cause, the depression is a symptom. It can also be a symptom of PTSD, or many other mental health conditions. But still, it is a symptom, not an independent condition.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Binky, your "evidence" is nothing but your own personal experience and opinion, not fact. You aren't a doctor and your anecdotes are not statistical proof of anything.

      Depression is NOT always or necessarily "usually" caused by any specific hormone or event. Stop playing a doctor on the internet.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
    • Binky is wrong

      You don't have the slightest clue, Binky. You are incorrect. Most depression and anxiety is not caused by events or situations. Read something.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      I totally agree Binky42. The posters below are angry birds who want drugs.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:42 | Report abuse |
    • Nutty Buddy

      Who 'want drugs'? What kink of special idiot are you? Do you think antidepressants are fun to take, you moron? They have many side effects, and if you think people crave them like addicts, you are too stupid to comment here.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      I've been to countless psychiatrists, counselors, and therapists with my husband who has been in treatment for his mental illness for many years. I'm just repeating what these trained, certified experts have told me. This isn't my opinion. This is what I have been told and have personally experienced. SOMETHING causes depression. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, and that imbalance HAS to be caused by something. It's even common sense.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What a ridiculous assumption. No one cares if you 'agree' with Binky or not? Neither of you is speaking from anything but ignorance of the facts.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:48 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Wrong again, Binky. This is an opinion, not fact. You are talking about what the doctors you 'shopped around' for told you, and you're quoting their opinions because other doctors told you something you didn't want to hear. Chemical imbalances cause depression, but the reason for such imbalances is not something that can always be treated other than by treating the depression and anxiety they cause.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      Tom – I shopped around for doctors because most doctors didn't even want to listen to me. They gave me a prescription for antidepressants without even investigating the problem. The doctor I had now wanted to do blood work to check my hormone levels first. Wow, what a shock! She found my hormones were out of whack, I started taking the right supplements, and low and behold the anxiety stopped.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      @Tom Tom – Chemical imbalances may cause depression, but going a step back, the chemcial imbalance is caused by SOMETHING. It doesn't just happen out of the blue when you wake up one day for no reason. Doctors need to put the effort in to find what caused SOMETHING in your body to change from yesterday to today. I woke up with symptoms one day that I didn't have yesterday. After many tests and doctors, I found out I have MS. I had symptoms before, but my doctor kept treating each thing individually until I had my big MS attack and realized the doctor is a fool for not seeing something bigger was happening to me. Keep questioning doctors and go get tests until you find the REAL CAUSE.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:00 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Wrong, fredman. It can and does indeed appear out of the blue for some people. Let me know when you get your medical degree, because until then, you're not qualified to make such pronouncements.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Again, you, like Binky, seem to think there is ALWAYS a physical cause for depression. The chemical imbalance in YOUR brain was caused by MS. That is not the case for everyone. Any reputable psychiatrists will insist on tests to rule out physical causes. When those are ruled out, then what, dear? Not everyone has MS, or a hormone imbalance, or a traumatic event that can be determined to be a cause nor can every cause be treated. When are you and Binky going to figure that out? Or would you rather just continue to look stupid?

      June 7, 2011 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      I am curious, what tests can psychiatrists do that make sure that depression is cause by chemical imbalances in the brain? Anyhow, i was put on an anti-depressant when i was 17 and i now have some sort of brain/ central nervous system damage at 22. I have been off the drugs for more than 18 months and involuntarily twitch as well as suffer from other adverse side effects. The fact of the matter is that yes, these drugs do help people. Also, these drugs can do serious harm. After having looked into the matter i would have to say that American children are severely overmedicated and that a whole generation of kids have been sold out to the pharmaceutical companies. The fact that so many kids have been prescribed atypical anti-psychotics even though they were not approved for use in children is case in point 1. These drugs shrink the prefrontal cortex of your brain and are given to kids as if they were jelly beans. Being a teen can be tough and we should not be so quick to medicate. It is my sincere belief that drugging school aged children is doing more harm than good and is an American tragedy. Not only are our elderly and foster children being unnecessarily drugged, but our entire population, including teens/ adolescents.

      June 8, 2011 at 17:25 | Report abuse |
    • Nutty Buddy

      You can 'believe' whatever you want, but the portion of your post concerning 'overmedicating of children' is nothing but speculation.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      To a certain extent your right, given that there is no right answer to how many kids should be put on psychiatric drugs. Nevertheless, during the 1990's the US was 90% of the world's add medication market with that number being 80% during the 2000's. Also I doubt any country gives close to the amount of anti-psychotics to their kids as they do here, if at all. Relative to other countries we definitely give more psychiatric drugs. This is big business for the pharma companies with more kids being diagnosed with mental problems equaling more pills sold.

      June 9, 2011 at 00:14 | Report abuse |
  11. SMS

    Life's natural combatants to depression and anxiety are on constant and drastic decline in today's world. Family support, friends, community, excercise & active lifestyle, positive messages, optimism, proper nutrition, adequate rest, time spent outdoors, productivity – all of these are areas in which our youth (and really, most of us) are lacking. As long as this continues, it's no wonder cases of mental illness are on the rise.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valerie

      I second you. Very well said.

      June 7, 2011 at 14:58 | Report abuse |
    • Canopy

      You got that right!

      June 7, 2011 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are they on "the rise"? Or are they just being diagnosed more openly as the stigma of depression and other mental illness decreases?

      June 7, 2011 at 21:07 | Report abuse |
  12. azgirl

    I have been on a low dose of a antidepressant for over 2 years now it has been a lifesaver for me before I started taking the medication i was moody, not sleeping, crying all the time, and etc... I believe mental illness is a real problem that needs to be addressed especially with the young people of this country. They need more education about it in middle school and high school so they can spot the signs in friends or themselves.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • counseling student

      I agree!

      June 7, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Agree. There is a genetic link to depression as well, something those who decry the use of antidepressants like to ignore. Binky thinks all depression is 'caused' by events or hormonal problems, when in fact, there is evidence that some people are predisposed to depression and anxiety because their parents suffer from them. Antidepressants can be an absolute godsend and those who yammer about their dangers ought to consider the danger of untreated and unremitting depression.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      Tom, if the chemical imbalance that causes depression is genetic, then that genetic issue is the cause of depression. Again, depression is the SYMPTOM of the imbalance.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You are simply not correct, Binky. And none of your reiteration can change that. When there is a genetic predisposition, what possible treatment is there, once all physical causes have been ruled out?

      You yammer about your experience as if it mattered. Doesn't it occur to you that I have just as much experience with depression as you do?

      June 7, 2011 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
    • Binky42

      Tom, none of what you say makes ANY sense. No medical condition can exist without a reason. Whether it's genetic, environmental, situational, or whatever. ANY medical professional will tell you that depression is caused by an upset of chemicals in the brain. That can be caused by genetics, by a depressing situation, by an illness, etc. For example, diabetes is a disease, but high blood sugar is a symptom. A chemical imbalance in the brain is usually one disorder or another, and depression (that feeling of being depressed) is a symptom of that. I don't know how I can explain it any clearer.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ever hear the term 'idiopathic', dear? Of course illness can occur without any apparent or discoverable cause. What medical school did you get your misinformation from?

      June 7, 2011 at 12:02 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You are claiming that the chemical imbalance when not caused by hormonal imbalance or other physical illness can be somehow treated without antidepressants. While talk therapy has been found to be helpful, most depressed people respond better to a combination of talk therapy and antidepressant medication. Show me a study that proves otherwise. Your word isn't sufficient.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
  13. lee scott

    I wonder if anyone has ever been in depreession, which is a chemical imbalance, being depressed is feelng low, sad but it will pass, but depression will not, without therapy, medications and open minded people who really should do reshearch, in cause a friend or family should need help before sucide. So many differents kinds of mental problems, I myself have had these depression and anxiety for 30 years, I have tried and being through shock treatment, been around people who hear voices, schripeona people who are horrible condition, hate the way they are, trust me the only will power they need is for family and friends to visit them.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. TheLeftCoast

    This country is very unhealthy ~ 25% of Americans have a mental illness, and 20% of the workforce is. There's a great book called 'Toxic Coworkers: How to Deal with Dysfunctional People on the Job,' in case you're working for/with an unstable person.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Nutty Buddy

    Binky42 says:
    My evidence comes from talking to my doctor and many counselors/therapists/psychiatrists. Depression and anxiety can be caused by either a medical conditional or a situational/environmental factor. Rarely are they ever independent of anything else. They are symptoms, not causes.
    Your evidence is insufficient. Depression and anxiety are NOT 'rarely independent of anything else'. And until you can produce a study that proves it, you are talking out of your hat, or somewhere south of it.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Binky42

      If a chemical imbalance doesn't cause depression and anxiety, what does? An act of God?

      June 7, 2011 at 11:56 | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The issue isn't whether a chemical imbalance causes depression, Binky. It is whether the chemical imbalance is always caused by a physical problem like hormone imbalance or thyroid disease or other things that can be treated with other means. You are apparently contending that most depression can be treated without antidepressants when that isn't the case.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
  16. iamthefredman

    There are coming-of-age rituals everywhere in the Western world. Communions, Confirmations, Bar/Bat-Mitzvahs, graduations, proms, sweet sixteens, etc. Family and friends are there to help each person along from childhood to adulthood. For some it takes longer than others. For some it is easier than for others. No one is the same. I was the slow grower/smallest kid in my class, slow to physically mature. Therefore I was picked on, last kid picked in gym class, etc. but I turned out just fine. I figured out early on how to deal with it and my place in the world (which was my school). Too many kids want everything handed to them because their mommy said they are the best and the smartest and the prettiest and they can be anything and do anything they want. Now they grow up spoiled, stupid and cannot think for themselves on how to relate to other kids and tough situations. How sad.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What does any of this have to do with mental illness and its treatment?

      June 7, 2011 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • OneOfTHOSEPeople

      I think he was responding to "sunbirdwoman" and Valerie, who both seem to think having rituals for developmental milestones will somehow magically erase mental illness by making the victims "accountable" for their live stages. Too new-agey for me...

      June 8, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  17. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    In many cases, antidepressants can help relieve the pain of depression sufficiently so that the patient is able to function and to respond to talk therapy of some kind, whether it's cognitive or some other therapy approach. But when a patient has had tests that show no underlying physical cause and is in terrible distress, antidepressants can be a huge help. In many cases, the brain chemistry does indeed change as a result of antidepressant use and people do stop taking them.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. krispy kritter

    iam a fifty three year old man on disability for a number of mental issues. in 1986 i lost 8 people to different causes; two were suicides, two were cancer, ect....i have been a "stay at home dad" for 20+yrs, and have raised two wonderful children. all i know is parenting is a tough job no matter the situation,and parenting, as you all know, doesnt come with a "handbook". all we can do as parents, try to give our children the tools "empathy,love and honesty" and i pray that they, "my children", dont inherit my issues later in life.


    June 7, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    The fact is that both Binky and fred seem to think antidepressants are EVIL, but that it's okay if you treat the physical illness causing your depression with medication. What if there IS no physical illness? Then what, Binky?

    June 7, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pooja

      e.l Posted on For one thing unless they're piheusbld you mean writers'.Only you can decide when, as it needs to fit round you and your members' schedules.

      April 8, 2012 at 01:46 | Report abuse |
  20. Yes1fan

    Mental illness treatment is beginning to evolve from chemical (drugs) to electrical treatment. In 1998, my wife became the second youngest woman in the U.S. to receive a Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS) to treat her severe Essential Tremor – it worked quite well, unlike the myriad of drugs tried beforehand, which backfired in almost every case. DBS is now being used for Tourettes, Depression, Parkinson's, Paralysis, Coma, and is being newly targeted for "mental" disorders all the time. Eventually, they will have the brain "mapped", treatment targets established, and enhanced DBS technology to restore functional normalcy for most "mental" disorders, sans drugs.
    One thing the article did not mention is implicating viruses that can cross the brain-blood barrier, as a cause of mental illness. In my wife's case, an autoimmune reaction to Streptococcus (strep throat) is suspected as the cause of her tremor (Google PANDA disorders). Strep has the ability to give off proteins that mimic surrounding tissue, making the autoimmune reaction to it also attack the healthy tissue, including brain tissue. When the strep is destroyed, the autoimmune reaction continues against the healthy tissue for life....unless a process called plasmaphoresis (blood immune-system rebooting) is performed, preferably in childhood or before too much damage has occurred.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fuyuko

      very true. I do think virus and childhood illness has been linked in some cases.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:47 | Report abuse |
  21. Fuyuko

    There are so many factors to anxiety disorders and mental illness, from diet, fitness, to genetic pre-disposition to the onset of more stress in puberty etc. The issue is all mental illness is not a like, so there really is no one size fits all solution or treatment because people develop it for different reasons. I see a lot of people saying people do not need meds to get well, but sometimes they simply do. Whatever works for them.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Exactly. The notion that somehow antidepressants are 'bad' or unnecessary for people is as absurd as claiming that insulin is 'bad' for them or is some sort of 'crutch'. Whether the cause is physical or not, antidepressants can help people who are suffering terribly from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety and provide them relief so that they can function and feel better.

      Trying to demonize medication as some money-making tool for Big Pharma is just doing a disservice to people who are in pain.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • Fuyuko

      Yes. It is bothersome to me that people tell others they do not need meds, because it is impossible for one person to really know, especially when they have not walked in the other person's shoes.

      June 7, 2011 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
  22. Doug

    Unfortunately, mental disorders in relatively young people are one of the most difficult disabilities to prove when attempting to obtain disability benefits through Social Security Disability due to the fact that it is incredibly difficult to prove an underlying cause to the symptoms that manifest. It can also be difficult to establish consistent treatment histories or provide the medical evidence necessary to prove total disability according to SSA definitions.

    Thanks for the good information brought up in this article,

    Social Security Disability Help

    June 7, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Just so, Doug. But according to Binky and fred, all mental illness can be traced to some physical cause that can then be treated and miraculously, the depression will lift. It just doesn't work that way, as anyone who's ever suffered from depression or knows someone who has can tell you.

      Sometimes, depression DOES indeed "just happen", and no underlying, treatable physical cause is present.

      June 7, 2011 at 19:12 | Report abuse |
    • OneOfTHOSEPeople

      Doug, howl ovely of you to post a link to a legal firm and not the actual SSDI site. Do you get paid for click-throughs?

      June 8, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
    • JustAnotherGirl

      Oh so right Doug!

      June 17, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse |
  23. Excellent Mom

    Living in PA with mentally ill son without treatment has become a nightmare. Our son is 25 is delusional and paranoid and refuses any treatment because of lack of insight. No help, No diagnosis and he roams in Philly ,posts on several threads about Government. It doesn't look like anyone cares . The family is suffering and so is our son. PA has 35 year old out dated law and one has to either threaten to kill himself or others. Shame on law makers who let the mentally ill people roam around. Recent survey in Philly shows 85% of homeless are either menatlly ill OR have addiction problem ,OR have both. It has been a year since he first showed symptoms. Will there be any changes in current laws? Frustrated MOM.....

    June 7, 2011 at 21:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      My sympathies, Excellent. I'm sorry that the system provides no support for you. Unfortunately, your son is an adult and as such, there is very little you can do legally to get help for him.

      My heart goes out to you.

      June 7, 2011 at 21:37 | Report abuse |
  24. Nutty Buddy

    I love how "common sense" is cited by those who have none. Binky is a prime example.

    June 7, 2011 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. jp

    i had beans for breakfast

    June 8, 2011 at 07:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Kevin Todd

    I work for a Para-transit company out of Pa.....One of the most shameful reasons for a HIGH YOUTH MENTAL ILLNESS rate is because of an ugly loophole our drug addicted youths have found in the newly inacted health system that makes DRUG ADDICTION a handycap and makes addicts eligable for free rides back and forth to methadon clinics plus the treatment7 days a week and free housing and ACCESS cards ( credit cards payed by taxpayers) and free child care !...............sorry to give you the shady side of your mental heath statistics !

    June 8, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OneOfTHOSEPeople

      Kevin, that is NOT part of the "newly inacted health system" (I assume you mean the newly-enacted Health Care Reform laws–most of which are NOT in effect for another two years). Methodone clinics, complete with the free treatment, etc, have been around since the late 1960s.

      You married to that Lisa person?

      June 8, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
    • Nutty Buddy

      Sorry, Kevin, bt i cnt reed yor post. i dont speel words like yooo due.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:03 | Report abuse |
  27. Brian

    A curious what if question here. Instead of acting like these "disorders" are the deviations of the normal human species, what if they are normal human actions?
    We've acted so long like depression, anxiety and any other sickness is outlier to the human norm. What if these are simply, part of the human condition?

    June 8, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nutty Buddy

      They may be, though I highly doubt it. But treating them so those who have anxiety and depression can live productive, more satisfying lives instead of being completely disabled and miserable would render your question moot.

      June 8, 2011 at 18:06 | Report abuse |
  28. Excellent Mom

    It's sad that I can't do anything to help him as a Mom plus No one will do anything. We did 2 -302's which kept him in hospital for 3 days. After that no one cares to do anything. Its all voluntary. He doesn't think anything is wrong with him. He thinks he has telepathic powers and he can attack the government. I can't even expalin what We are going thru. Thanks for the kind words. Hoping for a miracle....

    June 8, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. FairGarden

    My child got better simply by not-watching TV comedy cartoons. It really works.

    June 8, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. FairGarden

    Today's youth need a strong sense of purpose, something much higher than self-fulfillment. Ignoring God and worshipping self lead to insanity.

    June 8, 2011 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JustAnotherGirl

      *scoff* I haven't ignored God by any means and still I have struggled with sever depression since mid adolescence and borderline personality disorder in more recent years... I suppose you'll tell me that it's my own fault though and that clearly there is something wrong with my relationship with God (just thought I'd beat you to it)

      June 17, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
  31. FairGarden

    We read together on the history of Asia and current goings in the Middle East, on Corrie ten Boom, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, David Livingston, Joni Eareckson Tada, and William Wilberforce. No time to get depressed.

    June 8, 2011 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, stick it, Adelina. You are clueless.

      June 9, 2011 at 07:35 | Report abuse |
  32. Excellent Mom

    When someone has lack of insight and they don't think they are ill, more so they need to be treated. Cancer and other illness get treated because they know they are sick. Mentally ill have Anosignosia and they don't think anything is wrong with them. So the family sufers because NO laws will take it into consideration. Dementia and Alzheimers get better treatment than my 25 year old who is ill for 1 year and NO diagnosis OR treatment. He is posting every where about his delusional ideas but since he is not dangerous to society he will not get any help!!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
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    November 25, 2011 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
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