Severe Psychiatric Disorders May Be Increasing
By E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.
April 1, 2002
Dr. Torrey is executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute and co-author of The Invisible Plague: The Rise of Mental Illness from 1750 to the Present, on which this article is based.
What, then, are we left with? We are left with an epidemic of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that presently affects 4 million Americans, four times more than are infected with HIV. An epidemic that slowly kills by suicide 15% of those afflicted (Goodwin and Jamison, 1990) and that costs the nation over $110 billion each year in direct and indirect costs (Wyatt and Henter, 1995; Wyatt et al., 1995). An epidemic that is so insidious and ingratiating that it is barely noticed, an invisible plague. An epidemic that increased as much as 10-fold over the last century and that appears to still be increasing.
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