Neither your bulletproof vest nor your duty weapon can protect you from mental illness. Mental illness knows no age, gender, ethnicity, age, or profession. As a cop, you are as susceptible to mental illness as anyone else. The lifetime prevalence rate for mental illness is nearly 50%. Over one in four has a mental illness in any given year.
May is recognized as "National Mental Health Month." Put down your fitness magazines, turn off "American Idol," clean your gun later, and read this.
Your chances of having a mental illness, this year and within your lifetime are significantly higher than of having a heart attack. Yet, you get a physical, chest x-ray and EKG annually. You take your prescribed medication for your cholesterol and high blood pressure daily. You change your diet; you exercise more and do whatever else your doctor tells you to decrease your odds of myocardial infarction. What are you doing to prevent and/or treat mental illness? It is time to get rid of the stigma of mental illness in your own head and within your department.
A landmark study (NCS-R) reviewed four diagnostic mental health disorders based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criterion for mood, anxiety, impulse control and substance abuse disorders. The results may surprise you.
The lifetime prevalence for any of these disorders is 46.4%; the annual rate is 26.2%. For the one in four who have a mental illness this year, 40% will have mild symptoms; 37% will have moderate symptoms (including suicidal thoughts or gestures and substance dependence without serious role impairment). The remaining 22% will have serious symptoms (suicide attempt with serious lethality intent, work disability or substantial limitation, substance dependence with serious role impairment, or an impulse control disorder with serious repeated violence).
Mood, Anxiety, Impulse Control and Substance Abuse Disorders
Prevalence and Symptoms
Mood Disorders: Your chances of suffering from a mood disorder sometime in your lifetime are one in five. Annually about 10% of the population has a depressive disorder. A depressed individual often reports a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and a diminished ability to experience pleasure. Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide. It can affect all aspects of an individual's life: relationships, health, and careers.
Women experience depression about twice as often as men. Hormonal factors may contribute to this increased rate, particularly such factors as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum period, pre-menopause, and menopause.
Men are much less likely to admit to depression, and doctors are less likely to suspect it. The suicide rate in men is four times that of women (more women attempt suicide). Men's depression is frequently masked by alcohol or drugs, or by the socially acceptable habit of working excessively long hours. Depression typically shows up as irritability, anger, and discouragement. Men are much less likely then women to seek treatment.
Anxiety Disorders: The anxiety disorders included in the NCS-R study were panic, post-traumatic stress, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Your chance of suffering from one of these disorders sometime in your lifetime is around 30%. Annually, approximately 18% of the population has an anxiety disorder. Additional anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), additional anxiety disorders, social phobia, and specific phobias. Although each anxiety disorder has different symptoms, all the symptoms cluster around excessive, irrational fear and dread.
Impulse Control Disorders: Impulse control disorders include oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and intermittent explosive disorder. One in four Americans will suffer from an impulse control disorder within their lifetime. ODD and ADHD are generally classified as childhood and adolescent disorders.