Depression rates higher in wealthy countries, study finds

A new study published July 25 reveals that major depression is on the rise around the world and is more likely to hit those living in high-income countries than poorer ones.

The new study tracked depression rates across 18 countries, noting that the average lifetime occurrence of depression in 10 affluent countries was 14.6 percent, with much higher depression rates in France (21 percent) and the US (19.2 percent). For those living in higher-income countries, the average age that depression is likely to strike is between 25 and 26 years old, according to the researchers.

Based on the study, here are the percentages of people who either have experienced or will experience depression during their lifetimes:

High-income:
• Japan: 6.6 percent
• Germany: 9.9 percent
• Italy: 9.9 percent
• Israel: 10.2 percent
• Spain: 10.6 percent
• Belgium: 14.1 percent
• New Zealand: 17.8 percent
• Netherlands: 17.9 percent
• United States: 19.2 percent
• France: 21 percent

Low- and middle-income:
• China: 6.5 percent
• Mexico: 8 percent
• India: 9 percent
• South Africa: 9.8 percent
• Lebanon: 10.9 percent
• Colombia: 13.3 percent
• Ukraine: 14.6 percent
• Brazil: 18.4 percent

As part of a World Health Organization study, major depressive episodes were evaluated by trained surveyors giving in-person interviews with more than 89,037 people in 18 countries, making this the first study to assess depression with standardized surveys, said the researchers.

Participants responded to questions about depression symptoms, such as sadness, sleep patterns, and interest in daily activities, and also answered questions about their age, income, and marital status.

Why richer countries experience higher rates of depression isn't crystal clear, but the researchers suggest it might be because wealthy countries have more income inequality.

This study follows another published this spring that tracked mood differences between Americans and Europeans, noting that Europeans suffer from depression when they feel overworked, while Americans get a mental boost from the extra grind.

Regardless of where you live, depression is a serious yet highly treatable condition. To test whether or not you may be depressed, try My Mood Monitor (M-3) - an online one-page secure questionnaire used to self-test mood and risk for depression and other types of anxiety disorders.

The new study was published in the open access journal BMC Medicine. Access the abstract: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/9/90/abstract

 

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