According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. More precisely, 51.5 million (20.6%) adult Americans had some form of mental health disorder in 2019.
The prevalence of any mental illness was higher in women than in men and on a national level, the number of people with mental illnesses is rising.
But in this post, we’re focusing on a more local level. In this post, you’re going to learn more about the most common mental health disorders in Dallas, Texas.
Mental Health in Texas Overview
Although the prevalence of mental health disorders in Texas is lower than in other states, psychological illnesses are still common. This is evidenced by the ranking of Texas state in data published by Mental Health America.
When it comes to mental illnesses in adults, Texas ranks 30th. Among all states in the U.S., Texas takes 28th place in the category of mental illnesses in youth. Interestingly, in the “Prevalence of mental illness 2020” section, Texas ranks 3rd. However, Texans do not have satisfactory access to care, which is why the state ranks at 51st place in that category. The overall ranking of Texas is 27th in the country.
Some numbers show that about a million Texans of all incomes have serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI). For reference, conditions that are considered serious and persistent mental illnesses include depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
According to the Mental Health Committee Report & Recommendations published by the Texas Judicial Council, this state spends about $650 million each year in local justice system costs to address mental illness and substance use disorders that are not otherwise being treated adequately.
So, what are the five most common mental health disorders in Dallas, Texas? According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in order of prevalence, they include:
- Anxiety disorders (19.1%)
- Depression (7.2%)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (3.6%)
- Bipolar disorder (2.8%)
- Borderline personality disorder (1.4%)
Mental Health and COVID-19 in Texas
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health has been immense, across the globe and on a national level. The Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that 53% of U.S. adults reported their mental health had been negatively affected due to worry and stress over the novel coronavirus. The results also showed that:
- 36% of people experienced difficulty sleeping
- 12% experienced increases in alcohol consumption and substance abuse
- 12% reported worsening of chronic health conditions due to stress and worry over COVID-19
Texas, as a state, is not an exception. The pandemic has created widespread fear and economic anxiety, especially in rural areas of Texas, where access to mental health care is scarcer than in other areas. In fact, mental health problems such as trauma and depression may persist even when the COVID-19 pandemic lessens.
Mental health problems such as anxiety amid COVID-19 rise from existential concerns. As many businesses were forced to shut down, thousands of people were left wondering how to pay their bills and put food on their tables. These problems could lead to serious symptoms and even suicidal tendencies.
For that reason, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission launched a hotline specifically for men and women struggling with depression and other mental health issues. The statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line is available 24/7, and it’s toll-free; you can reach it by dialing 833-986-1919.
The severity of COVID-19 is best depicted through the fact that even children are experiencing mental health issues at the same rate as adults.
Mental Health in Dallas, Texas
The precise statistical info about mental health disorders in towns and cities is difficult to find because the greatest deal of research focuses on a broader area. Although scarce, it still exists.
Dallas county is the most heavily populated county in North Texas and the second most populous in the state, according to a report published by Mental Health America of Greater Dallas. Even though Texas tends to score below national averages on mental health indicators, Dallas County is a mix.
For example, the age-adjusted death rate due to suicide and the number of people living with self-care or cognitive disability in Dallas county is below the state and national average. However, the prevalence of people reporting mental distress is higher than the state average.
In 2015, about 88,000 adults (4.9%) living in the Dallas area had a serious mental illness. In addition, 22% of the population under 65 is uninsured. The ratio of population to mental health providers is insufficient to provide comprehensive and regular care.
Mental health problems affect children and teens. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and adolescents. Between 2011 and 2017, 65 children in Dallas County committed suicide. Seniors are also affected. For instance, nearly 20% of the Medicare population in Dallas County has been diagnosed with depression, whereas 176 seniors committed suicide in a period between 2011 and 2017.
Below, we’re going to address the five most common mental health disorders in Dallas, Texas.
1. Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a natural reaction to stressful, dangerous, and unfamiliar situations. Experiencing anxiety from time to time is normal. However, excessive and persistent symptoms or repeated episodes are the sources for concern.
Anxiety can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and limit their social and daily activities. Contrary to popular belief, anxiety is not a single disease but a term that refers to multiple conditions such as:
- Illness anxiety disorder – anxiety about health
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder – recurring irrational thoughts that lead to repeated behaviors
- Panic disorder – recurring panic attacks at unexpected times
- Phobia – excessive fear of a specific situation, object, or activity
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – anxiety resulting from a traumatic event
- Separation anxiety disorder – fear of being away from home and loved ones
- Social anxiety disorder – extreme fear of being judged in social situations
Figures show that 40.1% of adults in Texas reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression in October 2020 compared to an average of 37.7% of adults in the U.S. Among those with symptoms of anxiety and/or depression in Texas, about 21.4% also reported needing counseling or therapy but didn’t receive any treatment in the last four weeks, compared to the U.S. average of 22.5%.
The exact cause of anxiety is not fully understood. Traumatic events may trigger anxiety disorders in people who are prone to symptoms of anxiety. Inherited traits can also play a role. For some people, anxiety is associated with an underlying health issue.
The exact symptoms of anxiety vary from one type to another. But in most cases, they are:
- Nervousness, restlessness, tension
- The urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Increased heart rate
- Sense of impending danger, doom, or panic
- Hyperventilation (breathing rapidly)
- Weakness and tiredness
- Trouble thinking or concentrating on anything else but your present worry
- Sleeping problems
When left unmanaged, anxiety can severely affect a person’s health and wellbeing. Fortunately, this mental health disorder is manageable. The main route of treatment is to work through anxiety during therapy sessions, where patients adopt coping mechanisms.
That’s why it’s crucial to find the best drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas, such as the one offered at Stonegate Center. Therapies help reduce the severity and frequency of anxiety-related symptoms. It also teaches patients to start gradually participating in activities they used to avoid due to their condition.
Depression is defined as a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also known as major depressive disorder, this condition affects how a person feels, behaves, and thinks. Besides emotional problems, depression also harms the physical health of a patient. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health report showed that among adults aged 18 and older in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington MSA, 258,000 people (6%) experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.
The same as with anxiety, the exact cause of depression is not entirely clear. A combination of different factors could play a role in the development of this mental health disorder. These include:
- Biological differences (physical changes in the brain)
- Brain chemistry (alterations in levels of neurotransmitters)
- Hormonal imbalances
- Family history of depression
A person with depression may have multiple episodes where symptoms occur nearly every day and may include:
- Persistent feelings of tearfulness, sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
- Unexplained physical problems such as headache or back pain
- Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Sleep disturbances
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Trouble focusing, making decisions
- Appetite and weight changes
Depression is a serious health problem, but it is treatable. In most cases, patients receive a combination of medications and psychotherapy. It’s important to see your doctor or contact the depression treatment center in your area for professional guidance to your recovery.
This is particularly important if we bear in mind that 20% of Americans with anxiety or depression also have an alcohol or other substance use disorder. Also, about 20% of those with alcohol or other substance use disorder have anxiety or depression. In other words, depression (like anxiety) may often co-occur with substance use disorders.
3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event that a person experienced or witnessed. The condition is most likely caused by a complex combination of stressful experiences, including the amount and severity of trauma.
Family history of anxiety, depression, and PTSD may also play a role in someone’s susceptibility to this condition. A person’s temperament and the way their brain regulates chemicals and hormones released in stressful situations also has an impact on PTSD development.
First signs and symptoms of PTSD may occur within a month of a traumatic event. In some cases, a person experiences these symptoms even a year after the event or longer. We can categorize symptoms of PTSD into four groups:
- Intrusive memories – recurring, unwanted memories of a traumatic event, flashbacks, upsetting dreams or nightmares about the event
- Avoidance – trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Negative changes in thinking and mood – negative thoughts about yourself and others, hopelessness regarding future, memory problems, emotional numbness, difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Changes in physical and emotional reactions – being easily frightened and startled, always being on guard for danger, self-destructive behavior, overwhelming guilt, or shame.
The treatment for PTSD can help a patient regain a sense of control over their life. The primary course of treatment is psychotherapy. With a proactive approach and dedication at the best drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in DFW, Texas, a person can manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.
4. Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression). Besides genetics, physical changes in the brain may also contribute to the development of bipolar disorder. In this mental health condition, manic and depressive episodes tend to follow one another. For example, in the manic episode, a person is upbeat, hyperactive, talkative, easily distracted. Depressive episodes, on the other hand, manifest themselves through symptoms of depression described above.
Considering the severity of the bipolar disorder, the guided treatment yields the best results. A healthcare professional or a therapist with experience in treating patients with bipolar disorder can guide and navigate the treatment based on each patient’s severity of symptoms.
One study found that of all Axis I disorders (anxiety disorders, PTSD, etc.), bipolar disorder is the most likely to co-occur with alcohol or drug abuse. For that reason, specialized treatment and therapy sessions are vital for recovery.
5. Borderline Personality Disorder
A borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that affects the way a person thinks or feels about themselves and others. The disorder can impact the way a patient functions on a daily basis. A combination of brain abnormalities and family history or genetics can contribute to the development of this disorder. The most common signs and symptoms include:
- Severe fear of abandonment
- A pattern of unstable intense relationships
- Persistent feeling of emptiness
- Suicidal threats or behaviors
- Intense mood swings
- Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image
- Stress-related paranoia
- Impulsive and risky behaviors
The primary course of treatment of borderline personality disorder is through psychotherapy, but medications may be added if necessary, depending on the severity of symptoms or where a person decides to seek help.
Mental health problems are common in the U.S., including Dallas. In this post, we’ve gone through the five most common mental health disorders in Dallas and how they manifest themselves. Remember, although they are serious and affect your quality of life, it’s possible to recover successfully with the best care and guidance.
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction & pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center to the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.