Americans are more distressed than ever: study


In the U.S., misery has company.

More Americans than ever have serious psychological distress, according to a new study from NYU Langone Medical Center.

Researchers analyzed Centers for Disease Control data and concluded that 3.4% of the adult U.S. population — more than 8.3 million — suffer from serious psychological distress, known as SPD.

The condition combines feelings of sadness, worthlessness and restlessness hazardous enough to impair an individual’s well-being. SPD was previously estimated to be 3% or less of the population.

Findings, published in the journal Psychiatric Services, are based on the National Health Interview Survey.

More than 35,000 U.S. households, involving more than 200,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64, were included. Subjects were in all states and across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, participate in the yearly survey.

“Based on our data, we estimate that millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower quality of life and life expectancy,” said lead study investigator Judith Weissman, Ph.D. a research manager in the NYU’s department of medicine.

“Our study may also help explain why the U.S. suicide rate is up to 43,000 people each year,” she added.

The study also revealed that access to health care services deteriorated for people suffering from SPD.

“Although our analysis does not give concrete reasons why mental health services are diminishing,” said Weissman, “it could be from shortages in professional help, increased costs of care not covered by insurance, the great recession, and other reasons worthy of further investigation.”

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