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Substance Abuse, Mood Problems Widespread

Common Disorders Often Overlap, Study Says

WebMD Health News

Aug. 2, 2004 - If you or someone you know is dealing with substance abuse or a mood or anxiety disorder, you're not alone. They're some of the most common psychiatric disorders in the U.S., say researchers from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

A little more than 9% of the adult U.S. population has mood disorders, according to a new study published in The Archives of General Psychiatry. A slightly larger number -- 9.35% -- abuse alcohol or drugs, and about 11% have anxiety disorders, say the researchers.

Mood disorders include various forms of depression and bipolar disorder (manic depression). They are serious disorders that can affect people of all ages. Mood disorders can make it difficult or impossible to function and accomplish activities of daily living.

The numbers are based on a 2001-2002 survey of more than 43,000 non-institutionalized American adults by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Participants answered questions about substance use and mood/anxiety disorders over the previous 12 months.

The rates are "extremely high," say the researchers in a news release. What's more, substance abuse and mood/anxiety disorders often go hand in hand, with the study confirming "the strength of associations" between the problems, writes the authors.

About 20% of people with substance abuse issues also have at least one mood disorder that is independent of the effect of the drug being abused. Additionally, about 18% of them have at least one independent anxiety disorder, say the researchers.

Likewise, about 20% of people with mood disorders abused alcohol or drugs, while some 15% of people with anxiety disorders also had substance abuse problems.

The mood and anxiety disorders examined in the study were not caused by substance use or general medical conditions. None of the participants were in institutions for their problems.

SOURCE: News release, Archives of General Psychiatry.

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