Mental Health in U.S. Worsening, Survey Shows

Article excerpt

Chicago -- A barometer of the nation's mental health shows psychopathology-related symptoms have worsened overall in the past decade, with intriguing geographic variations.

Rates of frequent mental distress are highest in the Appalachian and Mississippi valley regions, and lowest and declining in the upper Midwest and Hawaii. The explanation for the geographic disparity is unknown, psychiatric epidemiologist Daniel P. Chapman, Ph.D., said at the American Psychiatric Association's Institute on Psychiatric Services.

He does, however, have a theory about the phenomenon.

"These high frequent-mental-distress states fall mainly within the so-called Stroke Belt. We suspect the high mental distress rates there could have something to do with the increased stroke rate and the burden that creates," he observed in an interview. He added that for now, this theory is speculative and subject to further investigation.

Dr. Chapman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented data on roughly 2.5 million randomly selected community-dwelling U.S. adults who participated in the agency's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System interviews from 1993 to 2001 or 2003 to 2006.

The survey included a question asking respondents how many days over the past month their mental health--including aspects such as stress, depression, and problems with emotions--was not good. …


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