Epidemic? Half of US teens ‘meet criteria for mental disorder’
In 22.2 percent of teens, the disorder was so severe it impaired their daily activities and caused great distress, says the study led by Kathleen Merikangas of the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH).
"The prevalence of severe emotional and behavior disorders is even higher than the most frequent major physical conditions in adolescence, including asthma or diabetes," the study says.
Mental problems do not get the same attention from public health authorities even though they cost US families around a quarter of a trillion dollars a year, according to the study.
Merikangas and a team of researchers analyzed data from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement, which surveyed more than 10,000 US teens.
Eleven percent of teens with a mood disorder, 10 percent with behavior disorders and eight percent who had anxiety disorders, especially social phobics, met the criteria for severe impairment, meaning their condition affected their day-to-day life and caused them great distress.
Teen mental disorder rates mirror those seen in adults, suggesting that most adults develop a mental disorder before adulthood, say the researchers, calling for earlier intervention and prevention, and more research to determine what the risk factors are for mental disorders in youth.