Psychiatric Disorders Common Among Young People
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15 December 2008
A new study has revealed that psychiatric disorders appear to be common among 18–24–year–olds, with overall rates similar among those attending or not attending college. The study, conducted by Carlos Blanco, MD, PhD, of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, New York, found that almost half of the individuals surveyed met the criteria for a psychiatric disorder but only one–fourth of those had sought treatment.
“For many, young adulthood is characterised by the pursuit of greater educational opportunities and employment prospects, development of personal relationships and, for some, parenthood,” the authors said. “While all of these circumstances offer opportunities for growth, they may also result in stress that precipitates the onset or recurrence of psychiatric disorders.”
The data was drawn from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which focused on people ages 19 to 25 between 2001 and 2002 and included more than 2,188 people in college and 2,904 who were not attending college. A total of 45.8 per cent of college students and 47.7 per cent of young adults not in college met the criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder.
The most common disorder in college students was alcohol abuse, followed by personality disorders. In young adults not attending college, the most frequent disorder was personality disorders and nicotine dependence. College students were less likely to have a diagnosis of druguse disorder, nicotine dependence or bipolar disorder and were less likely to have used tobacco. However, their risk of alcohol use disorders was greater.
Treatment rates were low for all psychiatric disorders. College students were significantly less likely to receive treatment for alcohol or drug use disorders than those not in college. Overall, the researchers found that the rate of psychiatric disorders is high among those at a vulnerable stage of development.