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National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Spotlight
December 13, 2016
Adults in urban areas more likely to report a past year mood disorder
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Past year mood disorder among adults aged 18 or older, by urbanicity: 2008 to 20124,5

The figure displays two bar charts. The bar chart on the left displays the percentages of adults aged 18 or older who live in urban areas and who had a past year mood disorder. The total percentage is 7.4. The percentage of adults with a past year mood disorder who live in a large metropolitan area is 8.0. The percentage of adults with a past year mood disorder who live in a small metropolitan area is 7.2. The percentage of adults with a past year mood disorder who live in a nonmetropolitan area is 5.8. The bar chart on the right displays the numbers (in millions) of adults aged 18 or older who live in urban areas and who had a past year mood disorder. The total number is 17.0 million. The number of adults with a past year mood disorder who live in a large metropolitan area is 9.6 million. The number of adults with a past year mood disorder who live in a small metropolitan area is 5.1 million. The number of adults with a past year mood disorder who live in a nonmetropolitan area is 2.2 million. The difference between numbers and percentages for large metropolitan areas and nonmetropolitan areas is statistically significant at the .05 level. In the graphic, error bars visually represent the variability or uncertainty in the percentages.

Mood disorders are a group of disorders characterized by extreme sadness (major depression) or a cycle of extreme sadness and happiness (bipolar)1. Mood disorders can interfere greatly with people’s everyday lives. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s 2008 to 2012 Mental Health Surveillance Study (MHSS), an estimated 17.0 million adults aged 18 or older (7.4 percent) had one or more mood disorders in the past year2. The 17.0 million adults with one or more mood disorders in the past year includes 9.6 million people who lived in large cities; 5.1 million who lived in small cities; and 2.2 million who lived in more rural areas3. Adults who live in large cities are more likely to report mood disorders than adults who live in more rural areas (8.0 versus 5.8 percent). While the results show that adults in urban areas are more likely to report a past year mood disorder, the results cannot be used to determine if living in urban areas causes mood disorders or vice versa. For more information on mood disorders, see the full report2.

Mood disorders can have lifelong effects and if left untreated, can lead to other substance use and mental health issues. Information about treatment of mood disorders is available at http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/mental-disorders

A person is classified as having one or more mood disorder if they are classified as having bipolar I disorder, major depressive disorder, or dysthymic disorder.  Mood-related problems must be accompanied by clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. 
Karg, R. S., Bose, J., Batts, K. R., Forman-Hoffman, V. L., Liao, D., Hirsch, E., et al. (2014). CBHSQ Data Review: Past year mental disorders among adults in the United States: Results from the 2008-2012 Mental Health Surveillance Study. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DR-N2MentalDis-2014-1/Web/NSDUH-DR-N2MentalDis-2014.pdf
3 Large metro areas have a total population of 1 million or more, small metro areas have a total population of fewer than 1 million, and Nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) areas include counties in micropolitan statistical areas as well as counties outside of both metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas. 
4 In the graphic, error bars visually represent the variability or uncertainty in the percentages.
5 The difference between the following categories is statistically significant at the .05 level: large versus non-metropolitan areas.