Affective illness, a many-faceted disorder, is the third most common condition diagnosed in the United States today (after cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disease), says Danielle Turns, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, University of Louisville.
Speaking at a seminar on the Biology and Psychopharmacology of Depression in Tarpon Springs, Fla recently, Turns said that although accurate incidence and prevalence rates are difficult to establish, the prevalence of affective illness appears to be rising, and probably 17% of the US population suffers from it at present. The chance of someone who lives to age 70 contracting depression during his lifetime is now 7.8% for males and 20% for females.
Just as many criteria for diagnosis are vague, the reasons for the increased prevalence are also unclear, said Turns. A portion of the statistical rise may result from more diagnoses of affective illness by physicians; part may be due to increased patient sophistication in