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Five Most Common Mental Health Conditions in America

The 5 Most Prevalent Mental Health Conditions In America

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar Disorder

There are many good reasons to know about the most common mental health conditions in America. Students who want to go into counseling or psychology need to understand these conditions, as does anyone with a friend or family member suffering from mental illness. Below are the five most common mental health conditions in the United States and some helpful information about each of them.

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1. Depression

Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of Americans every year. Symptoms can include persistent feelings of sorrow, low self-esteem, and worthlessness, as well as weight loss and fatigue. Like with other mental illnesses, there are different types of depression, although they can all take their toll on an individual’s personal and professional life. Different types of depression include seasonal affective disorder (when the patient becomes depressed during the winter months), persistent depressive disorder (when symptoms persist for over two years) and psychotic depression (which can include hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions). Depression is a serious condition that can lead to suicide attempts and living a miserable life, so help should be sought if symptoms persist.

2. Anxiety

Along with depression, anxiety disorders are the other most common mental health disorders in the United States. Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive worry, fatigue, irrational fears, trouble sleeping, strong self-consciousness, panic attacks and more. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common type, although there are also social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias and others. Anxiety disorders can cause life-threatening health problems, such as high blood pressure, so anyone suffering from an anxiety disorder should take steps to manage it.

3. Addiction

Addiction to alcohol, drugs or other things is another common medical condition that ruins lives and rips apart families every single day in America. Addiction distorts the brain and changes the way a person thinks, making them continue a harmful behavior even when they know it is bad for them. Addiction can cause a number of issues such as poor impulse control and social problems, as well as cause jobs and relationships, to fall apart. Addiction is considered a true mental illness per the National Institute of Mental Health, with the more formal name substance use disorder.


ADHD is a mental health condition that does not only affect children – it can remain a challenge to adults as well. Types of autism such as Asperger’s Syndrome are commonly misdiagnosed as ADHD, which can make getting the correct help even harder. True ADHD is a disorder where the brain does not act typically, which results in inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. People with ADHD have difficulty concentrating, getting places on time and keeping their lives organized. It can be controlled with medication, therapy, training and support groups.

5. Bipolar Disorder

While related to depression, bipolar disorder is a wholly separate condition. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme changes in mood between depressive and manic episodes. These may follow a distinguishable pattern or not. The mania may become so severe that it results in psychosis, and depressive episodes can lead to suicide. Psychotherapy, medications and other types of therapy may be needed to control the condition. There is no cure and it is a lifelong condition.

No one should have to suffer through these conditions without hope, and understanding is the first step to helping people with these conditions. Knowledge of the five most common mental health conditions in America prepares students to help the people who must live their lives battling these illnesses.