The Elephant in the Room

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The American Elephant

Most Americans live a “bubbled” existence.  They go on with their day-to-day lives completely ignorant of the things around them, or not caring.  Some of these people are the ones who complain about stop signs, or perhaps even the word “BUMP” being painted on the road to notify drivers there’s a speed bump.  Some are naive and lived a closed, sheltered existence.

Whether people chose to ignore things or choose not to believe in them, makes no difference.   In the safety of this bubble, people are creating problems where problems do not exist.  They are ignoring what the true problem.

What is the American Elephant?

The American Elephant is the “elephant in the room” that no-one wants to talk about.  It is the social pariah and the antithesis of vogue.  But it’s real, it’s here and it’s not going anywhere.

It’s mental illness.

Did you know that May is the National Mental Health Awareness month?  Or at least that was the idea in 1949 (Wikipedia National Mental Health Awareness).   I did a little internet search to find out what health awareness May was for and the government is calling it “Melanoma/Skin Cancer Awareness” month (  I found another site that mentioned some other illnesses.

So, there’s a small group trying to celebrate Mental National Mental Health Awareness, but it’s not catching on…

The Facts

Let’s look at Depression.

  • In 2016, an estimated 10.3 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. This number represented 4.3% of all U.S. adults.
  • An estimated 44% received combined care by a health professional and medication treatment.
  • Treatment with medication alone was least common (6%).
  • Approximately 37% of adults with major depressive episode did not receive treatment.
National Institute of Mental Health


So in the U.S. there are millions of people who suffer from depression and over half are not getting the proper treatment.

Let’s add Anxiety into the mix…

Did You Know?

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America

So, the amount of people that are not being treated for depression is the same amount as the people who are getting treated for an anxiety disorder.  To me, that says that the U.S. as a whole is more aware of Depression than Anxiety.  Anxiety is a whole can of worms itself.

Here is a taste:


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Women are twice as likely to be affected as men. GAD often co-occurs with major depression.

Panic Disorder (PD)

PD affects 6 million adults, or 2.7% of the U.S. population.

Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.

Social Anxiety Disorder

SAD affects 15 million adults, or 6.8% of the U.S. population.

SAD is equally common among men and women andtypically begins around age 13. According to a 2007 ADAA survey, 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.

Specific Phobias

Specific phobias affect 19 million adults, or 8.7% of the U.S. population.

Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.

Symptoms typically begin in childhood; the average age-of-onset is 7 years old.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders, which some may experience at the same time, along with depression.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD affects 2.2 million adults, or 1.0% of the U.S. population.

OCD is equally common among men and women.

The average age of onset is 19, with 25 percent of cases occurring by age 14. One-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms in childhood.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD affects 7.7 million adults, or 3.5% of the U.S. population.

Women are more likely to be affected than men.

Rape is the most likely trigger of PTSD: 65% of men and 45.9% of women who are raped will develop the disorder.

Childhood sexual abuse is a strong predictor of lifetime likelihood for developing PTSD.

Major Depressive Disorder

The leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.3.

MDD affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7%of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.

While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5 years old.

More prevalent in women than in men.

Persistent depressive disorder, or PDD, (formerly called dysthymia) is a form of depression that usually continues for at least two years.

Affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. (about 3.3 million American adults). Only 61.7% of adults with MDD are receiving treatment. The average age of onset is 31 years old.

(Source: National Institute of Mental Health)

Related Illnesses 

Many people with an anxiety disorder also have a co-occurring disorder or physical illness, which can make their symptoms worse and recovery more difficult. It’s essential to be treated for both disorders.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are closely related to anxiety disorders, which some may experience at the same time, along with depression.

Read on to learn more about the co-occurrence of anxiety and these disorders:

Anxiety Facts

These are the two illnesses I will touch on and make my case in point about.

What is my point?

Well, I thought you’d never ask.

People are and have been quick to blame guns on deaths in the media.  The Armalite (AR-15) rifle taking the brunt of the blame, because it’s a reliable and responsibly priced gun.  Mainly it gets blamed, because people think that AR stands for automatic rifle.  No, it’s the name of the manufacturer.

But let’s be honest. Let’s look at the forever infamous Columbine incident.  Yes, he used a gun, but WHY did he do it?

Let’s look at it like a Murder Mystery.  A murder must have the following: opportunity, means and motive.  But there’s, also, a trigger that makes that person take that step.

The  TV show Criminal Minds dives into the mind of a killer and the detectives use psychology to profile the killers.

Back to Columbine, what happened to that kid to make him snap?  He was bullied, but there may have been a lot of other things going on at the time.  It’s very likely he was one of those millions that had a problem, but was not getting treatment. Dealing with a bully isn’t easy and there are adolescents that have opted to end their lives rather than deal with a bully.  This kid snapped, took his means, opportunity and motive to school with him.

My question is this, why hasn’t anyone talked about Mental Illness?

Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, and Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  Why? That’s one question to ask. How? That’s another good one.

The thing is, if someone wants to kill themselves or someone else they will find away.  If you watch enough Midsomer Murders (which is a UK based Murder Mystery Series), you find that most of Barnaby’s murders do not involve guns.  If you watch Luther (another UK based show), you will see that guns aren’t killing people.  The point being that the United Kingdom banned guns and their police do not carry guns like American policy (I believe that’s changed), but even in a society without guns there is still death and murder (I do realize I am referencing fictional shows).

You can take away a man’s gun, but you cannot stop him from murder if it is on his mind.  In the oldest story of homicide, Cain killed his brother with a jawbone.  Which fulfilled the means to his opportunity and motive.

Why did they do it?  That’s the important question.  That needs to be the focus.

Statistics don’t lie.  There are millions who are suffering from mental illnesses and do not get treatment.  A person’s mind can only go so far before it snaps or breaks down.  When that happens, there’s no telling what the outcome may be.

Let’s put it out there. Let’s shove that elephant up on the stage and say, “Mental Illness needs awareness.”  This is something that cannot and should not be ignored.

Raise awareness.  Get educated.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Please visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website.  This site educational and is ready to help anyone in need.  They, also, offer a blog on HealthUnlocked where you can find more help and information about mental illness.

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