An estimated 1 in 5 adults suffer from a mental health disorder in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety and depressive disorders are the most common of all mental illnesses. Both are severe, chronic, and can significantly impair the individuals affected by them. Anxiety disorders can produce feelings that range from uneasiness to immobilizing moments of terror. An anxiety symptom may include excessive worrying, a feeling of being out of control, panic attacks, frequent nightmares, and lack of sleep. Any anxiety symptom can be frightening, even debilitating. Each year, 19 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, and another 19 million experience a depressive illness.
Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Up to one-half of all visits to primary care physicians are due to conditions that are caused or exacerbated by mental or emotional problems. With so many Americans suffering from mental health disorders, the FDA estimates that sales of depression/anxiety medication , such as Prozac and Zoloft, increased from 14 million prescriptions in 1992 to 157 million in 2002. However, in a study of 2,318 patients conducted by the University of Colorado , only 20 percent of the patients taking depression/anxiety medication were found to improve as a result. Furthermore, studies show that depression/anxiety medication may even increase the risk of suicide rather than decrease it.