A sweeping look at mental illness in the United States has uncovered a continued high prevalence of &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/05/21/29062_.html ' target=_blank>psychological disorders, with about half of all chronic cases beginning by the tender age of 14.
While most cases of mental illness are mild and will not need professional intervention, people with more serious cases tend to delay treatment and, when they do seek help, tend to receive inadequate care. The results of the massive survey on the prevalence of common mental disorders appear in four papers in the June 6 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The reach of mental illness is similar in magnitude to that of diabetes and &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/11/29/40157_.html ' target=_blank>cardiovascular disease, the difference being that the latter two diseases tend to occur in older people while mental disorders strike people in the prime of life, added Ronald C. Kessler, director of the surveys and a professor of health-care policy at Harvard Medical School.
For the surveys, 300 professional interviewers traveled 8 million miles over a five-year period to question nearly 9,300 U.S. adults. The $20 million study is an expansion of the 1990 National Comorbidity Survey, reports the Forbes.
They found most people did not seek treatment for the common conditions such as depression and anxiety that were tracked. But when people did get help, they usually waited about 10 years after their problems initially surfaced.
That lag time can be dangerous, said Ronald Kessler, a professor of health-care policy at Harvard who oversaw the survey of nearly 10,000 people. He said researchers found that three-fourths of those with mental disorders had symptoms before age 24. Half of them showed signs of trouble by age 14.