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Mental Illness a Leading Cause of Disability in the U.S.

When the subject of disabilities surfaces in our thoughts or conversations, it is common to first consider those caused by some type of physical ailment or affliction. Conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and back problems are certainly primary causes of long-term disabilities in our nation. However, mental illness is the leading cause of disability in U.S. citizens ranging in ages from 15 to 44, according to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) statistics.

What these numbers show is that many Americans and people around the world are affected by illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and a host of other mood and anxiety disorders in the prime of their working lives. Unfortunately, these numbers show no sign of subsiding anytime soon. In fact, they continue to rise, as do the number of filings with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) for disability benefits due to mental illnesses.

The SSA and Mental Illness Claims

The SSA has established specific criteria that qualify those suffering with mental disorders for disability benefits. Basically, it must be determined that an existing mental condition limits or impairs one’s ability to fulfill their work obligations. In most situations, assessments and evaluations must be performed by mental health professionals. Additionally, evidence must be submitted to the SSA that indicates the individual in question is unable to perform their assigned job duties as a consequence of their condition.

Getting Back on their Feet

It is important for those with mental health issues to make their employers aware of their situation. All too often, workers are hesitant or afraid to address their condition with their employers for fear of negative repercussions. But behavioral or productivity problems could lead to termination, which also often results in the loss of insurance, creating even more problems for these individuals in regard to receiving treatment.

When documented mental health issues are reported to an employer, they are obligated under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations to accommodate that employee with whatever they need to successfully perform their job duties, or to make their working situation as comfortable as possible. In lieu of applying for disability benefits, this can allow an employee to continue to work while receiving mental health treatment and take measures that will eventually enable them to effectively manage their condition.

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This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.

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Mood Disorders and Personality Disorders among the Most Common Mental Illnesses

 Mental health problems are the leading cause of disability in the U.S., costing our society countless hours of productivity each year.

The types of mental illnesses are wide-ranging and are classified according to symptoms and characteristics.  It is not always easy to pinpoint a specific mental disorder. This is in part due to similarities between some of the symptoms of various illnesses. Although many established treatment methods have proven to be effective, approaches to treatment are continuously evolving and depend upon circumstances and contributing factors that are unique to each individual.

The Most Prevalent Types of Mental Disorders

Nearly nine percent of Americans suffer from some form of depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Depression falls into the “mood disorders” category and can range from relatively mild depression to potentially debilitating “major depression.”

Other mood disorders include manias and manic disorders — which are indicated by abnormally elevated moods and elation — and bipolar disorders, which carry symptoms such as fluctuations between mania and depression or “mood swings.”

Personality disorders are another common category of mental illness. These are indicated by unstable and socially abnormal behavior patterns and include disorders such as schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Mental illnesses such as OCD and various phobias are often also categorized as anxiety disorders.

The statistics on mental illness in our society are sobering. But the good news is that expertise in the areas of OCD treatment, depression treatment and overall mental health treatment continues to advance. Innovations in research, medications, psychotherapy, behavior modification techniques and the advent of technology such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS treatment) are resulting in increasingly positive results in the treatment of a wide spectrum of mental disorders.