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Why do so many people in America have mental disorders?

It seems like every person I have met in America (I am not from here, but I live here now) has either ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression or some sort of anxiety disorder. I have never come across these many mentally ill people ever, in any of the other countries I have been in. Are Americans really that much more prone to mental disorders than people from other countries? Or is the health care system such that people get diagnosed for every little thing?
For example, my friend is convinced he has general anxiety disorder. He is not on any medication or anything. I have never seen him get anxious, or even show any unnatural signs of anxiety, ever. He is always calm and very composed. But he is in therapy for anxiety, and insists he needs it. I don't believe him. Everybody feels super anxious sometimes, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have an anxiety disorder. I guess if they got a little manic and started saying or doing something unnaturally or in a way that caused concern, then it would be justifiable to say they have a problem, but I feel like some people (my friend) is just doing it for the attention.
This is not the only person I have come across who insists they have a problem when they don't. It's getting annoying. Why are people treating mental disorders like its some kind of enviable ornament?
8 Responses
134578 tn?1546634665
If everyone you have met has a mental illness, you've sure been hanging out with a fun group of people.  (Though I will note, you're here during a pretty anxious time in the life of this country, with people losing their homes and jobs, and the general sense that nobody is secure.)  Generally on an international scale, Americans are considered to be pretty sheltered from the kind of realities seen in emerging countries, and maybe you are reacting in some part to that.  That said, I've lived here all my life and met hundreds of people, and can think of maybe three who are even in therapy, and only one who is on an antidepressant.  Rather than labelling your friend unbelievable, why not stop judging whether he seems too calm to have an anxiety disorder and just let the topic drop?  Sorry if it annoys you, but it's pretty hard to say from the outside what someone else's problems are.  If you think the guy is milking the situation for sympathy, just don't give it to him.  If you can't stand his style, stay away from him.  But please consider not making sweeping generalizations about an entire country full of people, if you can bring yourself to stop.  
Avatar universal
All I have to say is that if you have never had a panic attack or anxiety it is really really difficult to understand what its like. I have terrible anxieties about my health and believe me when I tell you that I wish I didnt have to deal or feel this. Anxiety gives you a sense of doom that is hard to understand. Some say that it has to do with your the chemicals in your brain Ive also been told that if it runs in your family you are prone to it also.I believe I developed it because of a traumatic experience. Dont judge your friend and be supportive I doubt that anyone would make stuff like this up. It sounds fake to you because you dont understand it but I get it a lot of my friends and family members dont understand it either and its very frustrating.
1448936 tn?1363209946
I'm not sure what country you're from but I haven't noticed a disproportionate number of people here affected by mental illness in comparison to other countries I've been in. Maybe your friends here  are more willing to accept help through the anxieties that are causing them distress at the moment. There's nothing wrong with therapy if you're feeling overwhelmed with life and stressors. And going to therapy doesn't mean that you have a mental illness either. It means you need a little outside help to cope with whatever happens to be going on at that particular time. I believe the adhd thing was blown out of proportion by the pharmaceutical companies but I think anxieties are common anywhere in the world. I think you're making too broad of a generalisation of americans based only upon the people that you know. I only know a handful of people that have sought counseling and only know 2 people other than myself that are on medication to control anxiety/depression. Come to think of it, when I spent time in London I met a guy who told me his story about how he self medicated his anxiety with marijuana because he didn't want to take the meds he was prescribed. I think it just happens to be the people you've met since being here.
968908 tn?1274874715
You are right and the reason being is because America has a system that diagnoses and prescribes very easily.  Also it seems to be a trend and so acceptable to be on medication in the States, entire families end up on medication and in therapy for minor elements that simple logical thinking could resolve.  Trust me when I say this even animals are prescribed anti-depressants and benzo's cause the vet dignoses them with anxiety and depression... It in itself is like a disease.  

Why do they prescribe so freely?  Because for one thing anti-d's and benzo's are a HUGE market and therefore bring in mega bucks for both drug companies and big bonuses for doctors who prescribe their product.  Americans have been brain washed into thinking that there is no other options available to them and are now seeing a generation of neurotic, socially immature, under developed, medicated, addicted society.

America has become a pill will cure all country.
968908 tn?1274874715
Plus to add children are being prescribed by the truck load these harsh mind altering chemicals, that are b eing given to literally tiny tots because they are 'acting up' or seem to be 'too shy' or have a 'nightmare' every once in while.  The parents take their 'normal' children to a shrink and are placed on drugs when all the time all it needs is for the parents to go to parenting lessons on how to raise their children properly and control the challenging or whatever behaviour, because in 90% of cases that is all it really takes, is a firm knowledgable parent to use good parenting skills to change and allow that child to bloom.
1238554 tn?1339423716
I'm sure if you asked the majority of my friends about my panic attacks or anxiety issues, they would respond with, "what anxiety issues?"

Just because you're friend appears calm doesn't mean he's not suffering. I've gotten really good at handling my anxiety, or sneaking away if I start having a panic attack. Only a few of my really good friends even know anything about it. Be supportive instead of judgmental. Even if he is doing it for attention, that's just a whole other issue. Something deeper is going on.

I don't know why anyone would pretend to have a mental disorder, it's definitely nothing to envy. Besides myself and some members of my family, I only know one other person in therapy. So perhaps it's just like everyone else said, it's the people you're hanging out with.
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