Psychiatric disorders over-diagnosed

November 18, 2010

An Associated Press story in The Baltimore Sun ("Gov't survey: 1 in 5 adults suffered mental illness last year, but most went untreated," Nov. 18) maintains that 20 percent of "American adults suffered from mental illness during the past year [and that] [m]ost didn't receive treatment."

This is one of those meaningless statistics that converts problematic Americans into "diseased" Americans and cites the "link" between "mental health problems" and alcoholism and drug abuse.

Yes, it is true that irresponsible drinking and taking of drugs will make one's life miserable and may also be correlated with other anti-social behavior.

In December, 2008 the major journal Archives of General Psychiatry claimed that "Almost half of college-aged individuals had a psychiatric disorder in the past year," and that study found redundantly as well that alcohol and drug consumption caused psychiatric disorders.

One possible conclusion is that the percentage of mental disorders has precipitously declined.

The other more reasonable conclusion is that life can be problematic, especially for irresponsible drinkers and drug-users.

Richard E. Vatz, Towson

The writer is a professor of political rhetoric at Towson University.

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