Many myths about mental illness are still widely believed and interfere
with people getting the treatment they need.
Misconceptions about mental illness abound. And too often, they get in
the way of proper treatment.
These facts can help set the record straight.
Mental illness is a medical condition. Research shows that mental illnesses are disorders of the brain that can
be diagnosed and treated. Brain-imaging techniques reveal physical differences
between the brains of healthy people and the brains of mentally ill people.
Mental illness can happen to anyone. Nearly 1 in 5 American adults lives with a mental illness. These illnesses
affect people of every race, socioeconomic class, education level and culture.
Depression is an illness, not a mood. An estimated 16 million Americans experience a major depressive episode
each year. These disorders of the brain cause changes in sleep, appetite
and energy. They slow thinking and cause irritability, hopelessness and
guilt. According to the
National Alliance on Mental Illness, major depression is the leading cause of disability for people in the
U.S. between the ages of 15 and 44.
Children are affected too. About 1 of every 5 youths ages 13 to 18 has had, or currently has, a serious
mental illness, according to the
National Institute of Mental Health.
Depression isn't normal for seniors. Depression isn't normal for anybody. Effective medical treatment is
available for seniors with depression.
Suicide talk is serious. According to
Mental Health America, 80 percent of people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions.
If someone talks about or threatens suicide, listen and take their concerns
Ignoring mental illness costs big. According to some estimates, mental illness costs the nation tens of billions
of dollars. Programs that improve and speed up diagnosis and treatment
reduce the total cost of mental illness.
There is hope. Treatment can help relieve symptoms for people with mental illness. Talk
to your healthcare provider if you or someone you love needs help.