15 Serious Things That Are Much More Common than People Realize

Many things out there are a lot more common than most people realize today. From mental disorders to the number of American deaths caused by medical errors annually, here is a look at some shocking statistics.

1. Mental Illness

Did you know that mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says: “More than 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness. Over 1 in 5 youth (ages 13-18), either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness. About 1 in 25 U.S. adults lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.”

2. Loneliness

Have you seen the Surgeon General’s new report, Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation? It explains that half of the U.S. adult population reported suffering from “measurable levels of loneliness.” I would imagine that social media is a huge part of that.

The report continues: “These estimates and multiple other studies indicate that loneliness and isolation are more widespread than many of the other major health issues of our day, including smoking (12.5% of U.S. adults), diabetes (14.7%), and obesity (41.9%) and with comparable levels of risk to health and premature death.”

3. Substance Use DisordersMore people are suffering from substance use disorders (SUD) than you may think. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that 48.7 million Americans 12 and older have an SUD.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is still the leading disorder affecting 29.5 million Americans, while 27.2 million use drugs. Eight million Americans confess to suffering from both an AUD and a DUD. Now, imagine how many people are afflicted with addiction and aren’t being honest about it.

4. Drunk Driving

Drunk driving statistics are based solely on the people who are being caught and arrested for drunk driving. Sadly, the CDC informs that around one million Americans are arrested for being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

5. People in Recovery

Fortunately, there are more Americans in recovery from substance use disorders than most people may believe. The SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2021 suggests that out of the 20.9 million Americans who ever had a substance use problem considered themselves to be recovering or in recovery.

Side Note: Normalize not asking people why they don’t drink alcohol. Because of these numbers and personal experiences with friends and family who use substances, more and more Americans are choosing not to drink without a need for recovery.

6. Miscarriage

Miscarriage is, unfortunately, a common experience for women. The Mayo Clinic says 10% to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. Did you know that 20% miscarry before they learn they’re pregnant? So, that number is likely considerably higher.

It is seriously heartbreaking for wanted pregnancies, but it can be challenging for unwanted pregnancies, too. While not painful in the same way as knowingly having a miscarriage, it’s distressing for many people because of a seeming inability to get pregnant.

7. Credit Card Debt

Did you know that 45% of Americans carry a credit card balance from one month to the next? It’s widespread. In 2022, 82% of U.S. adults had at least one credit card, but many carry wallets full. Between high-interest rates, inflation, and the overwhelming financial oppression so many Americans are experiencing right now, I’d expect to see these numbers go up.

8. Professional Incompetence

From surgeons to the people handing you food out a drive-thru window, professional incompetence is at an all-time high. It doesn’t matter what the job is; these people are everywhere.

9. Imposter SyndromeImposter syndrome is more widespread than one may imagine. No one knows what they are doing. Everyone is just winging it. Most people are hoping that asking questions and being nice will get them there.

10. The Number of People Being Left Behind in the Digital Age

The number of people being left behind by services going digital is staggering, and the pandemic only made it worse. You can’t even get an actual menu anymore; businesses want you to download an app.

As a former cell phone store manager, I can tell you that senior Americans still carry flip phones. You’d be surprised at the number of people who do not have an email address! I set up so many Gmails to help people establish Apple IDs. It’s shocking, but also not.

From having to use MyChart to make medical appointments to the loyalty card stamp at McDonald’s becoming only available in their mobile app, everything is moving to digital services, and a significant portion of people are being left behind.

What’s worse, the population isn’t patient enough with the people (primarily seniors) who need help with things like voting on screens instead of ballots or filling out forms online instead of with pen and paper. Watching the younger generation scream at, record, and embarrass the older people for not knowing how things work now instead of respecting them and wanting to be helpful is despicable.

11. The Number of Deaths Caused by Medical Mistakes

Do you realize how many people die because of medical mistakes every year? A Johns Hopkins study suggests that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming over 250,000 lives annually.

12. Parents Regretting Having Children

While it may be taboo to admit it, a significant percentage of parents regret having their children. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love them or are terrible people, but some didn’t understand the responsibility they were signing up for.

A study finds: “It is estimated that in developed countries, up to 5%-14% of parents regret their decision to have children, and if they could turn back time, they would choose childlessness.”

13. Child Abuse

Child abuse and childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are far more common than the masses realize. There are 3.6 million cases of child abuse reported every year in the U.S., while 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 20 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault.

It’s important to emphasize those are only reported cases. As a survivor of both, I promise you there are a significant number of children who never report it.

14. Illiteracy Among High School Graduates

Illiteracy among high school graduates is staggering. U.S. Literacy Rate Statistics show that in 2022, a shocking 21% of adults in the U.S. are illiterate. Also, 54% of adults have literacy below the sixth-grade level, and the average American reads at the 7th to 8th-grade level.

15. Hoarding Disorders

Roughly 3%–6% of the population is affected by Hoarding Disorders. There are varying degrees of the disorder, and it’s often a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Numerous things can be hoarded, from hoarding information items such as books, magazines, mail, and scraps of paper to accumulating clothing, dishes, dolls, tools, and cars.

In more severe cases, some people excessively accumulate food or pets, resulting in unsanitary and, sometimes, condemned living conditions.


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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and Jesus.