In Developed Countries, Eight out of Ten Leading Causes of Disabilities Are Related to Mental Illness

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Both AMHF and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognize the crippling effect of mental illness. In their report “The Global Burden of Disease,” C. J. L. Murray and A. D. Lopez emphasize that 8 of the 10 leading causes of disability in the developed countries are mental illness. These include:

(1) Major Depressive Disorders

(2) Alcohol Use

(3) Traffic Road Accidents

(4) Schizophrenia

(5) Self-inflicted Wounds

(6) Bioplar Disorder

(7) Drug Use

(8) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

(9) Osteoarthritis

(10) Violence

This listing is backed by statistical researchers. But those involved deeply in the mental-health field have known this by experience or intuition, and it is frustrating to be able to recognize these problems that cripple human functioning, knowing that many people are not receiving the treatment that they need to lead healthy lives.

At the top of the list is Major Depressive Disorders. We at AMHF recognize that geriatric depression is perhaps one of the leading areas of unrecognized depression in the United States. Too many times we shrug off Grandma’s unhappiness by thinking that sadness and depression accompany old age, there’s nothing we can do about it. Or when an older relative or friend is depressed while suffering an illness, we regard the accompanying despondency as just another untreatable aspect of that illness or of aging. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Treatments for depression ranging from medication to therapy to healthy lifestyles can add hopefulness and even vitality to those whom we think are mired in untreatable and chronic sadness: what Dr. Stefan de Schill described as “Exiled From All Happiness.”

Although alcohol abuse and dependency are frequent in the media, the problems and suffering that they cause continue unabated. Why do so many people continue to be trapped within infirmity when so many approaches for treatment are available? One reason, we believe, is that other mental-health problems accompany alcohol problems, and these are often not recognized or diagnosed. The professionals call this dual-diagnosis. Even AA now recognizes that there may be a need for psychiatric medication once the alcohol abuse has been stopped (for a 24-hour period).

Probably all of us agree that teenage drinking continues to be out of control. At AMHF, we suggest that each of us can help this situation.

This only covers two of the disorders mentioned above. At AMHF, we hope to bring to everyone’s awareness the latest professional findings and specific things each of us could do. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could diminish suffering caused by the leading eight causes of disability throughout much of the world?

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