Study: Record number of Americans suffer from serious psychological distress

A study about serious psychological distress, or SPD, and the care options available to those affected by it reveals a rather grim reality.

According to researchers with the NYU Langone Medical Center, SPD cases have increased in recent years while the availability of mental health care for the condition has diminished.

The Centers for Disease Control describes the disorder as one that results in, "feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and restlessness that are hazardous enough to impair people's physical wellbeing."

Countries with greatest burden of disease for mental and behavioral disorders: WHO

Countries with the greatest burden of disease for mental and behavioral disorders: WHO
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Countries with the greatest burden of disease for mental and behavioral disorders: WHO

10. Germany

City center of Munich, Germany

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9. Nigeria

As seen from a plane, the aerial view of Lagos, Nigeria looks like a patchwork quilt of colored roofs, sand, grass and streets.

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8. Bangladesh

The sun is setting over the smoggy city Dhaka

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7. Pakistan

Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in Pakistan after Karachi with a population of some 7 million people.

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6. Indonesia

Panorama of Jakarta Skyline with blue sky and no traffic. BNI46 Building from left to right

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5. Brazil

A view from Santa Teresa in the hills of Rio de Janeiro as The iconic Cristo Redentor, Christ the Redeemer statue appears out of the clouds while lit up at night time atop the mountain Corcovado. In the foreground is the Favela Morro da Coroa. 

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4. Russia

Morning over the Moscow Kremlin in the sun

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3. United States of America

Crowd of Times Square in a rainy night, New York, USA

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2. India

Local indian people shoping at street market, Mumbai, India.

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1. China

Crowd of people along The Bund in Shanghai

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In an examination of federal health information, the NYU researchers determined that about 3.4 percent of people in the U.S. (more than 8.3 million) are SPD sufferers. Previous estimates put the figure at roughly 3 percent.

Meanwhile, mental heath services for treating that specific condition are decreasing, though exactly why that is remains unknown.

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Judith Weissman, the study's lead author, suggests it could be due to, "shortages in professional help, increased costs of care not covered by insurance, the great recession, and other reasons worthy of further investigation."

She also commented, "Based on our data, we estimate that millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower quality of life and life expectancy. Our study may also help explain why the U.S. suicide rate is up to 43,000 people each year."

Further investigation into the matter is planned.

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