Which emotional disorder is most common in Americans?

Emotional disorders are a growing concern for health care providers and their patients. 

“A lot of our patients have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD in veterans, and a host of other mental health conditions,” says Dr. Steven DePinho, the director of the Emotional Health Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“We are seeing more and more cases of PTSD, and more and to a lesser extent, with anxiety.” 

In 2016, the CDC reported that 3.7 million Americans had an anxiety disorder. 

And it’s not just in the United States.

In 2015, there were 1.9 million Americans with an anxiety diagnosis, and in 2015, 2.7 percent of Americans reported having an anxiety condition, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“We are not seeing the same numbers as we were in the 1970s,” DePico says. 

According to a 2015 survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly one-third of Americans said they had been diagnosed at least once with an emotional disorder, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse.

“The number of Americans who have PTSD, anxiety disorders, and PTSD in their family is a very large one, and it is not a coincidence that we are seeing that,” DeSantis says.

The number is increasing.

According to a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2015 there were nearly 16 million people in the U.S. who were on treatment for an emotional condition, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to DePhois work, many of these people will continue to live with these conditions as their lives progress and they become older.

“People who are already in their 30s and 40s will continue the cycle of having an older child, an older spouse, and possibly their own illness as they move through their 30 or 40s,” he says.

“So we have to look at the older population as the most vulnerable to having an emotional disease,” De Pinho says.

“The oldest adults are the ones with the highest incidence of emotional disorders.

So we have a long way to go.” 

And with the increasing number of people experiencing mental health challenges, it may not be the last they see of this phenomenon. 

Dr. Jennifer Toth is the chair of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a psychiatrist in private practice in Massachusetts.

She is the author of the book,  The Emotional Life: Why People Have Them and How to Live with Them. 

Toth says there are a number of factors that contribute to the development of mental health disorders, but most of the blame falls on individuals and families.

“One of the major causes is that it is a difficult time for people,” Toth says.

“…

People who do not want to be there, who do have an emotional disability and do not know what to do or say to get through it, it is really difficult.

It is really isolating, and they have a very hard time being in a community.” 

While the symptoms of anxiety disorders vary, Toth cautions against taking medication for anxiety or depression. 

She notes that medication is not the same as therapy and that a patient with anxiety disorder does not necessarily have to have a mental health condition to benefit from medication.

“I would recommend that people do not have a medication for panic disorder because they are not in the best physical or mental health state,” she says.

In fact, the American Psychiatric Association says it has no data on how effective medications are in treating people with anxiety disorders. 

There are also other factors that can lead to anxiety disorders that may not cause them.

“If you’re just feeling overwhelmed by your job, you’re not going to be able to handle it,” De Santis says, adding that people who are not dealing with any of the challenges in life can experience anxiety. 

While these symptoms can appear on the surface, it’s important to note that they are often hidden, and this can lead us to miss the signs. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional problem, talk to your health care provider. 

They can help you understand the symptoms and how you can help yourself. 

You can also call a mental wellness resource center, such as a crisis center or an emotional support group, for help with coping with a crisis. 

It’s important for health providers to recognize the symptoms, as well as the importance of addressing them, De Phois says.

Follow NBC News Investigations on Facebook and Twitter. 

The article was originally published at NBC News.