Mental illnesses are poorly understood by the general public. When it comes to things like clinical anxiety or depression, a worrying swath of the public think that those afflicted by them can just “get over it.” Try telling that to the 350 million people across the world that suffer from depression, or the 800,000 people that commit suicide every year as a result of it being left untreated.
A new Duke University study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology highlights just how unusual it is to not have experienced a mental disorder by the time you become middle-aged. Of 988 participants invited to take part in the study, just 171 of them experienced no anxiety, depression, or related issues between the ages of 11 and 38.
This means that by the time you are 38, assuming all else is equal, you could be one of the 83 percent of people that suffer from a mental affliction.
Of this 83 percent, about half of the participants in the study actually had at least one instance of a transient (short-term) mental disorder or related condition, including substance abuse. The rest experienced chronic mental disorders, which included long-term depression, bipolar disorder, or other types of recurring or sustained psychotic episodes.
This study was “longitudinal”, meaning that the mental health of the individuals were assessed eight times between these ages. This way, their mental states could be carefully tracked throughout their early lives.