Karela Fry

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World Mental Health Survey

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The Government of India was much concerned about the negative image of the country implicit in a WHO study of depression across the world. It took me some time to track the report down in BioMedCentral. It is a long report. Here are the abstract and the para that had the government exercised:

Background: Major depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, yet epidemiologic data are not available for many countries, particularly low- to middle income countries. In this paper, we present data on the prevalence, impairment and demographic correlates of depression from 18 high and low- to middle-income countries in the World Mental Health Survey Initiative.

Methods: Major depressive episodes (MDE) as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DMS-IV) were evaluated in face-to-face interviews using the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Data from 18 countries were analyzed in this report (n = 89,037). All countries surveyed representative, population-based samples of adults.

Results: The average lifetime and 12-month prevalence estimates of DSM-IV MDE were 14.6% and 5.5% in the ten high-income and 11.1% and 5.9% in the eight low- to middle-income countries. The average age of onset ascertained retrospectively was 25.7 in the high-income and 24.0 in low- to middle-income countries. … The female: male ratio was about 2:1. … The strongest demographic correlate in high income countries was being separated from a partner, and in low- to middle-income countries, was being divorced or widowed.

We previously reported that the pooled 12-month prevalence of MDE was similar in high-income (5.5%) and low- to middle-income (5.9%) countries (t = 1.2, P = 0.25), with the specific estimates varying from 2.2% (Japan) to 8.3% (USA) in high-income countries, and from 3.8% (China) to 10.4% (Brazil) in low- to middle-income countries. In the group of screen-positive respondents, the percentage with 12-month MDE was also similar for high-income (10.6%) and low- to middle-income (10.5%) countries (Table 2). The lowest rate was 6.7% (Italy) and the highest 18.0% (India). In 10 countries, these percentages were between 8 and 12%.

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