77% of Americans have used addictive behaviors or unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage their mental health, according to Myriad Genetics nationwide survey

Medication failure leads 45% of respondents with depression and/or anxiety to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms

SALT LAKE CITY, April 19, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --  From restricted or binge eating to excessive gambling to extreme social media use, 77% of Americans surveyed say they have used at least one addictive behavior and/or unhealthy coping mechanism to manage their mental health issues, according to the GeneSight® Mental Health Monitor, a nationwide survey from Myriad Genetics, Inc. (NASDAQ: MYGN).

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 1.

Figure 1

“Mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand,” said Morgan Freas, PharmD, a senior medical science liaison with Myriad Genetics. “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.

“Many of my patients have struggled with depression and/or anxiety but failed to find a treatment that made them feel better. So, they resorted to alcohol, drugs or destructive behaviors to sooth themselves, as these offered short-term relief,” said Dawn Johnson, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at the Indiana Center for Recovery in South Bend2. “However, this behavior resulted in worsening mental health and destruction of their lives. I’ve seen it personally.”

Johnson’s husband died due to his addictions and mental health issues. After his death, she studied to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner to help others address their mental health and substance/behavioral addiction issues.

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%

Johnson, whose patients have typically tried multiple medications without success, uses the GeneSight test in her practice as a tool to learn as much as she can about the patient before starting another mental health medication treatment. GeneSight analyzes how a patient’s genes may affect their outcomes with medications commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health conditions.

“The GeneSight test has been very helpful with my patients because they can see that many of the medications that failed were in their moderate or significant gene-drug interaction categories. This means they may not have been metabolizing them properly, along with experiencing no symptom relief or horrible side effects,” said Johnson. “The GeneSight report reassures them that we’re not just throwing medications at them, we’re actually customizing their plan based on their genetic makeup.”

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.

Figure 2

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%

People who reported in the 2023 survey they are dissatisfied with their mental health also indicated the negative impact that has on important aspects of their lives:

 Total Surveyed Population
(% Agree Negatively Affects)
Diagnosed with Depression/Anxiety
(% Agree Negatively Affects)
Having high self-esteem54%65%
Attending social engagements45%56%
Being the friend I want to be43%56%
Meeting other commitments40%47%
Being the spouse/partner I want to be38%44%
Doing my best at work38%38%
Going to work32%38%
Parenting the way I want to25%27%

Additional survey results, video and graphics are available at genesight.com/mental-health-monitor.

For more information about the GeneSight test, please visit GeneSight.com. For tips and tactics on ways to improve mental health outside of treatment, visit our Brighter Days Challenge at https://genesight.com/brighterdays/.

About the GeneSight Mental Health Monitor
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. The margin of error in survey results for the total base population at a 95% confidence interval is +/- 3%.

The 2022 data came from a nationwide survey of U.S. adults conducted online by ACUPOLL Precision Research, Inc. from Feb. 25 – March 11, 2022, among a statistically representative sample (n=1000) of adults age 18+. The margin of error in survey results for the total base population at a 95% confidence interval is +/- 3%.

About the GeneSight Test

The GeneSight Psychotropic test from Myriad Genetics is the category-leading pharmacogenomic test for 64 medications commonly prescribed for depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other psychiatric conditions. The GeneSight test can help inform clinicians about how a patient’s genes may impact how they metabolize and/or respond to certain psychiatric medications. Tens of thousands of clinicians have ordered the GeneSight test for more than two million patients in order to receive genetic information that is unique to each patient. The GeneSight test supplements other information considered by a clinician as part of a comprehensive medical assessment. Learn more at GeneSight.com.

About Myriad Genetics

Myriad Genetics is a leading genetic testing and precision medicine company dedicated to advancing health and well-being for all. Myriad develops and offers genetic tests that help assess the risk of developing disease or disease progression and guide treatment decisions across medical specialties where genetic insights can significantly improve patient care and lower healthcare costs. For more information, visit www.myriad.com.

Myriad, the Myriad logo, BRACAnalysis, BRACAnalysis CDx, Colaris, Colaris AP, MyRisk, Myriad MyRisk, MyRisk Hereditary Cancer, MyChoice CDx, Prequel, Prequel with Amplify, Amplify, Foresight, Precise, FirstGene, SneakPeek, Health.Illuminated., RiskScore, Prolaris, GeneSight, and EndoPredict are trademarks or registered trademarks of Myriad Genetics, Inc. © 2023 Myriad Genetics, Inc. All rights reserved.

[1] Categories include:

  • Drinking – Socially or alone
  • Marijuana – Smoking or edibles
  • Drug use – Sedatives, stimulants, hallucinogens, anesthetics, or inhalants (not including marijuana)
  • Excessive gambling – Sports or non-sports
  • Binge/restrictive food, sleeping, or exercise
  • Excessive social media or video gaming
  • Binging TV or movies
  • Clubbing/partying

[2] This story is one clinician’s personal experience. Other experiences may vary.

To view Figure 1, Respondents may view these behaviors as addictive or unhealthy coping mechanisms, yet many still use them. please visit the following link: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/b9ed7f89-03b0-4f46-a0e0-fb3b2a7674e7

To view Figure 2, Left to right: Depression rates increase from 2022 to 2023 & Anxiety rates increase from 2022 to 2023, please visit the following link: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/62b9f84d-08de-4ebd-ae00-aa6870da4612