Epidemiologic evidence for early onset of mental disorders and higher risk of drug abuse in young adults

Am J Psychiatry. 1988 Aug;145(8):971-5. doi: 10.1176/ajp.145.8.971.


Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Epidemiologic Catchment Area Program, an epidemiologic survey of five communities, showed that four major disorders commonly begin in late adolescence or young adulthood. The median age at onset for anxiety disorders is 15 years; for major depressive episode, 24 years; for drug abuse or dependence, 19 years; and for alcohol abuse or dependence, 21 years. Findings also suggest that for respondents 18-30 years old, having a major depressive episode or anxiety disorder doubles the risk for later drug abuse or dependence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • United States