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Re: Are mental health issues becoming a "trend?" - February 28th 2010, 05:15 AM

Whether or not they're a trend is a bit hard to say but I do agree with the ignorance people show towards what certain disorders actually are. This may be due to having criteria and symptoms posted online that can be accessed easily or it can be in part due to the media, or perhaps something else. I think part of it seems to be somewhat of a trend when I look at the "emo" style, which essentially can glorify depression, so much so that when someone appears "emo", they must be depressed in order for the stereotype to register as correct to someone. So, I do think certain mental illnesses are becoming more of a trend but certainly not all of them. Another one has to be with ADHD in that it's being diagnosed so much more and it's been questioned many times whether the increased rate is actually of legit patients or of a fad or trend.

However, there have historically been mental illness trends, such as the famous one of multiple personality disorder or DID. It all sparked mainly from 2 movies: Sybil and Two Faces of Eve. Before those movies, MPD was the rarest mental illness (or in the top few) with only about 70-75 cases. After that movie, over 40,000 cases were documented in a matter of around 10 years (bare in mind that the 70-75 cases prior were accumulated for more than 10 years). So, it is very reasonable to say that mental illnesses can become a trend or a fad.

You'd be surprised at how many actually have mental illnesses. In Canada, just as in the US, it's about 50% with some sort of mental illness, although there's always an issue of people who are mentally ill not seeking treatment so that number could realistically be higher. Due to the stigma associated with mental illnesses, many people do not reply in national health surveys, even if they are diagnosed so the number of around 50% is speculative, best thought of as a rough baseline although the real value as far as I know isn't known.

One of the reasons for this potential increases is that the DSM has been gradually introducing more and more mental illnesses, so things that were not viewed as illnesses now are. For example, caffeine withdrawl can be a mental illness. Another reason is that more doctors may be more lenient with their diagnoses because if they see that the rate of disorder X is increasing, then if their patient in front of them seems to be displaying symptoms of disorder X than a rarer disorder Y, it's more likely to be X than Y.

So, to summarize, yes there have been and potentially are mental illness trends or fads but only certain ones. There is also a large ignorance towards mental illnesses, some of which are very unusual and when studies are done, the results sometimes seem to boggle your mind as to how people can be this way. If you want, I'll post some as well as the links to the 50% rate I mentioned above, although you may need journal access (i.e. can only read the abstract).