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Millions of people are living with a mental health disorder today. Here, we examine the most common ones and how they can be treated.

There are an estimated 43.6 million adults living with a mental health disorder in the United States. This equates to 18.1% of the population (21.8% of women and 14.1% of men). Clearly, mental health disorders are very common, although their nature and treatment varies widely. Here, we examine the seven most common mental health disorder, and examine how they can be treated.

Anxiety Disorders

Exactly what they say on the tin. Anxiety Disorders are the most common group of mental health disorders, affecting 18.1% of the American population over the last twelve months. Anxiety disorders feature an excessive anxiety that affects the daily lives of the individuals affected. An anxiety disorder is not the same as a temporary reaction to a frightening situation. They are intense, they are long-term, and they only get worse without treatment.

There are several types:

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder: A permanent pervading sense of worry about everything (family, money, work), whether or not there is any need to worry about them. 3.1% of the population experience this disorder.
  • Panic Disorder: Repeated attacks of fear and panic. 2.7% of the population experience this.
  • Social Phobia: Fear and anxiety around other people. 6.8% of the population experience this disorder.
  • Specific Phobia: Fear of a specific stimulus, such as height or spiders. 8.7% of the population experience this.

Anxiety disorders are frequently treated with a mixture of medication (most commonly anti-anxiety medication, but occasionally antidepressants) and therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is most effective for anxiety. It works to change the individual's way of thinking, teaching them healthy and adaptive thought patterns, and how to react to stimuli in a more healthy way.


About 10% of the population over the age of twelve-years-old has an addiction. An addiction is where a person becomes psychologically-independent and feels they need it every day. Drugs, alcohol and gambling are very common addictions.

Treating addiction is very complex. It may involve treatment in a secure unit, where there would be a period of withdrawal. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is frequently used. In addiction, CBT helps the addicted individual realise what causes them to abuse the substance and alters their thoughts into healthy ones, so their need to abuse the substance will be removes. Family therapy is frequently part of treatment. Addicts cause their families a lots of hurt, and they need to acknowledge that.

Eating Disorder

30 million people in America are suffering with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not "faddy" eating. They are about a person trying to have some control over their lives through the medium of food. Eating disorders affect people of all backgrounds, and have been noted in people well in to their seventies.

There are four main types:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Self-starvation through a restrictive diet. May include purging, excessive exercise or use of laxatives. 4% of patients with Anorexia Nervosa will die because of it.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Periods of bingeing interspaced with periods of purging. 3.9% of patients with Bulimia Nervosa will die because of it.
  • Binge-Eating Disorder: Periods of uncontrolled bingeing without purging. People with BED may die due to complications of the disease.
  • Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS): An eating disorder that doesn't meet the characteristics of the above, but has traits such as being obsessive or controlling over food.

Treating an eating disorder can take a long time. In-patient treatment may be required to get the individuals weight back to within normal limits. Antidepressants may be used, as around 50% of patients with eating disorders also have depression. Psychotherapy is a key part of treatment. Usually CBT will be used to alter thought patters into healthy ones, alongside family therapy.

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