Study: Half of Americans will develop mental illness

(NBC) – Depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide are intense mental health problems plague millions of Americans. A new report suggests these issues are more common that you might think.

Half of these people will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point during their lives.

"I think it's more prevalent than anyone imagined,"  said Ileana Arias, PhD, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC released the largest report to date on the mental health of Americans. About 50 percent of us are expected to receive some kind of psychiatric diagnosis during our lifetime and as much as a quarter of the U.S. population is experiencing a mental health problem right now.

"They can't function at work," said Arias. "They can't go to school. They can't do the things that are necessary to essentially cope or survive on a day-to-day basis."

Mental illnesses often coincide with chronic physical diseases like obesity, cancer, Type II diabetes and heart disease. Experts say depression can come first, sometimes prompting people to make unhealthy lifestyle choices. Sometimes it's the other way around.

"Those chronic conditions can be severe enough that they influence the psychological functioning of an individual and those disorders can be the result of that," Arias said.

Eeither way, experts say proper treatment is key and can help patients feel better mentally and physically.

The CDC plans to release a report on childhood mental illnesses next year.

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