It is often difficult for families to understand the prevalence of teens suffering with a mental disorder. To help alleviate this, we created the following data visualization for the summary results of the study, "Lifetime Prevalence of Mental Disorders in US Adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A)" published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
For ease of use, we have included only figures on lifetime prevalence. This is the proportion of a given population that has ever had a mental disorder as classified by the DSM-IV at some point in their lives at the time of the study.
The visualization is structured with the highest level summary data available on the first tab, data by disorder type on the second tab and specific disorder data on the final tab.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
Tab 1: All Disorders - The study concluded that while 49.5% of teens between the ages of 13-18 had suffered from a mental disorder at some point in their lives, only 22.2% of teens had suffered from a disorder that could be characterized as severe. For disorders to be classified as "severe impairments," the study required the respondents to report "a lot" or “extreme” impairment in daily activities, or “severe or very severe” distress. According to the study, "Severe emotional disorders required both distress and impairment to be present, and severe behavior disorders required endorsement of symptom criteria by both the parent and the adolescent."
Tab 2: Disorders by Type - Among disorder types, anxiety disorders are the most common with 31.9% of U.S. teens experiencing an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. However, anxiety disorders were also found least likely to be severe with only 8.3% of teens reporting a severe impairment. Along gender lines, teen girls were more likely to suffer from anxiety and mood disorders, while boys were more likely to suffer from behavior and substance use disorders.
Tab 3: Specific Disorders - Specific phobias were by far the most popular mental disorders with 19.3% of teens reporting that they had suffered from this disorder at some point in their lives. However, specific phobias were also the least likely disorder to cause "severe impairment" with a prevalence rate of just 0.6% among teens. Along gender lines, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are noteworthy for the large dispersion between the number of male and female sufferers. ADHD is reported for 13.0% of males, but only 4.2% of females. PTSD is reported for 8.0% of females, but only 2.3% of males.