One in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17−about 13.6 million−live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.1

  • Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent.2
  • Approximately 1.1 percent of American adults— about 2.4 million people—live with schizophrenia.
  • Approximately 2.6 percent of American adults−6.1 million people−live with bipolar disorder.
  • Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults−about 14.8 million people−live with major depression.4
  • Approximately 18.1 percent of American adults−about 42 million people−live with anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder and phobias.4
  • About 9.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.


Major mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder rarely appear ―out of the blue.‖ Most often family, friends, teachers or individuals themselves begin to recognize small changes or a feeling that ―something is not quite right‖ about their thinking, feelings or behavior before one of these illnesses appears in its full-blown form.

“ One half of all mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% begins by age 24.”


If several of the following are occurring, it may useful to follow up with a mental health professional.

  • Withdrawal — Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in others
  • Drop in functioning — An unusual drop in functioning, at school, work or social activities, such as quitting sports, failing in school or difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Problems thinking — Problems with concentration, memory or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain
  • Increased sensitivity — Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations
  • Apathy — Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity
  • Feeling disconnected — A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality
  • Illogical thinking — Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or ―magical‖ thinking typical of childhood in an adult
  • Nervousness — Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling
  • Unusual behavior – Odd, uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior
  • Sleep or appetite changes — Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or decline in personal care
  • Mood changes — Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings

One or two of these symptoms alone can’t predict a mental illness. But if a person is experiencing several at one time and the symptoms are causing serious problems in the ability to study, work or relate to others, he/she should be seen by a mental health professional. People with suicidal thoughts or intent, or thoughts of harming others, need immediate attention.

Taking Action, Getting Help:

Research has has shown that early intervention can often minimize or delay symptoms, prevent hospitalization and improve prognosis.

Encourage the person to:

  • Have an evaluation by a mental health or other health care professional.
  • Learn about mental illness, including signs and symptoms.
  • Receive supportive counseling about daily life and strategies for stress management.
  • Be monitored closely for conditions requiring more intensive care.

Each individual’s situation must be assessed carefully and treatment should be individualized. Comprehensive treatment to prevent early symptoms from progressing into serious illness can include ongoing medication management, individual and family counseling, vocational and educational support, participation in a multi-family problem-solving group, and medication when appropriate.

Learning about mental illness and how the brain function can help individuals and families understand their symptoms and behavior.

Just as with other medical illnesses, early intervention can make a crucial difference in preventing what could become a serious illness.


Although Choice Psychiatry Medical Group strives for the highest quality in the resources offered, it is not responsible for the validity or accuracy of the material presented in the web site links. SPGA does not endorse any of the medications, products or treatments described, mentioned or discussed in any of the services, databases or pages in the resource list. Always consult a licensed mental health professional before making any decision regarding treatment choice or changes in your treatment.

Never discontinue treatment or medication without first consulting your psychiatrist or therapist. Online resources are to be used only for general educational and informational purposes and are not meant to nor can replace the specialized training and professional judgment of a health care or mental health care professional. Please consult your physician or appropriate mental health care provider about the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your own symptoms or medical conditions.