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One-month prevalence of depression and other DSM-IV disorders among young adults



Background. We aimed to provide prevalence data on depression and other current mental disorders, impairment, need of psychiatric care and use of mental health services among young adults.

Methods. Based on a semi-structured clinical interview, current DSM-IV disorders, impairment, need of psychiatric care and use of mental health services were evaluated in a sample of 20–24-year-old young urban adults (N = 245), mean age 21·8, screened from a baseline population of 706. One-month prevalence estimates for disorders were calculated by the double sampling method, using various additional criteria to identify cases.

Results. One in four young adults (23·8%) suffered from a current mental disorder, the most prevalent being depressive (10·8%), anxiety (6·9%), substance use (6·2%) and personality disorders (6·0%). Prevalence estimates varied substantially according to the use of additional diagnostic criteria. Impairment (GAF < 61) together with DSM-IV symptom criteria produced an overall disorder prevalence of 10·3%, and 5·5% for depression. Prevalences were higher for females than males, except for alcohol abuse and personality disorders. Current co-morbidity was found in 39% of subjects with any disorder, and in more than half of those with depression. One-third of subjects with a current disorder reported an associated contact with psychiatric services and 16% had an ongoing contact.

Conclusions. Our findings support the use of additional criteria to produce clinically relevant prevalence data. Co-morbidity should receive special attention due to its amplification of both need for psychiatric care and severity of impairment. Finally, our results show disturbed young adults to be severely undertreated.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr Terhi Aalto-Setälä, Iirislahdenranta 30 A, FIN-02230 Espoo, Finland.


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