© Tero Vesalainen| Dreamstime
Americans Using Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms to Manage Mental Health

Americans Using Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms to Manage Mental Health

April 19, 2023
A new survey found 77% of Americans admitted to using at least one addictive behavior or unhealthy method to address their mental health issues.

Finding ways to deal with mental health issues can be challenging. People turn to behaviors including restricted or binge eating, excessive gambling and even extreme social media use. According to the GeneSight Mental Health Monitor, a survey from Myriad Genetics,  77% of Americans said they have used at least one addictive behavior and/or unhealthy coping mechanism to manage their mental health issues.

The GeneSight Mental Health Monitor is a nationwide survey conducted online by ACUPOLL Precision Research, Inc. in February 2023 among a statistically representative sample (n=1000) of U.S. adults age 18+. The survey included a representative sample of adults diagnosed with depression and anxiety. 

Nearly all Americans (94%) surveyed agree that substance and behavioral addictions often mask underlying mental health issues. Though they may view these behaviors as addictive or as unhealthy coping mechanisms (or both), many admit to still using them .

“Mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand,” said Morgan Freas, PharmD, a senior medical science liaison with Myriad Genetics, in a statement. “Yet the stigma associated with admitting mental health challenges is often greater than escaping into substance or behavioral abuse.”

The survey found those diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety consider drinking alcohol alone as an unhealthy coping mechanism, addictive behavior or both (77%). Yet, 41% of these respondents admitted to drinking alone to cope. In fact, 25% of this segment who said they heavily drank alone admitted they were worried they had a problem.

Medication trial and error may prompt unhealthy choices

Two-thirds of those diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety have experienced trial and error in trying to find medication that works for them. Nearly half of this segment (45%) report they have turned to an unhealthy coping mechanism as a result of a medication failure.

Those diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety admitted to using the following coping mechanisms:

  • Sleeping too much or too little – 70%
  • Withdrawing from social activities – 64%
  • Binge watching TV or movies – 49%
  • Skipping work/school/household responsibilities – 48%

The survey found that of those who were told they have a problem, 58% of those diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety say mental health treatment helped relieve their addiction concerns.

Mental health trends: Rising depression and anxiety rates and their impacts

The GeneSight Mental Health Monitor tracks depression/anxiety rates as well as factors driving mental health concerns and their impact on people’s lives. Comparing spring 2023 and spring 2022 survey results, significantly more Americans are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety compared to just one year prior.

The top factors negatively impacting mental health in the past year, among those dissatisfied with their mental health, include (respondents selected top 3 in the 2023 survey):

  • Cost of living – 42%
  • Relationships with a family member or friend – 36%
  • Ability to financially support my family – 29%
  • Body image – 25%
  • Death of a close friend/family member – 20%
  • Workplace performance/satisfaction – 16%
  • What others think of me – 16%
  • Dependence on alcohol or drugs – 13%
  • Spread of COVID or another public health concern – 11%
  • A medical diagnosis for myself or a loved one – 11%

Sponsored Recommendations

ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS)

March 28, 2024
ISO 45001 certification – reduce your organizational risk and promote occupational health and safety (OHS) by working with SGS to achieve certification or migrate to the new standard...

Want to Verify your GHG Emissions Inventory?

March 28, 2024
With the increased focus on climate change, measuring your organization’s carbon footprint is an important first action step. Our Green House Gas (GHG) verification services provide...

Download Free ESG White Paper

March 28, 2024
The Rise and Challenges of ESG – Your Journey to Enhanced Sustainability, Brand and Investor Potential

Work Safety Tips: 5 Tactics to Build Employee Engagement for Workplace Safety

March 13, 2024
Employee safety engagement strategies have become increasingly key to fostering a safer workplace environment. But, how exactly do you encourage employee buy-in when it comes ...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!