The Bogus “Epidemic” of Mental Illness in the US

June 18, 2015 | Couch in Crisis, Career, Major Depressive Disorder
By Ronald W. Pies, MD

Among psychiatry’s critics, the notion that there is an “epidemic” of mental illness in the US is one of the most enduring and widely held beliefs.1,2 More radical versions of the epidemic narrative implicate psychiatrists and psychiatric medication for the alleged proliferation of mental illness2[pdf]—a claim often tied in with the claim that psychiatry has “medicalized normality.”3 But what is the evidence for such an “epidemic” of mental illness in the first place? In discussing this question, it’s important to distinguish actual increases in illness frequency from the issues of alleged “over-diagnosis” or “over-medication.” These are important clinical and societal concerns, but are beyond the scope of the present review.


“The present review provides little support for the view that serious psychiatric disorders are on the rise, or that there is a “raging epidemic”1 of SMI in the US—either in adult or younger populations. On the contrary, rates of SMI appear to be either declining or fairly stable in this country. Relatively stable rates also apply with respect to the incidence and prevalence of, for example, major depression and schizophrenia. The incidence and prevalence of mental illness cannot be reliably inferred from changes in medication prescription rates, office-based diagnosis or treatment rates, or rates of putative “disability” attributed to mental illness. Only the uniform application of defined clinical criteria over long periods—or structured, clinical interviews—can yield reliable information on incidence and prevalence. There is no credible epidemiological evidence that psychotropic medication per se has led to rising rates of SMI, or increased rates of any specific psychiatric disorders in the general population.”


“Dr Pies is Editor in Chief Emeritus of Psychiatric Times, and a Professor in the psychiatry departments of SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, and Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston.”

Nothing, however, was said about the funding for his work or that of those who developed the research he surveyed. Big Pharma is the Big Funder out there. And no industry in the US has industry-side profit margins like Big Pharma.

Truth-telling or bald-faced lies? I dunno know. Tough to tell.

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take care :alien: