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The most common treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) is antidepressant medication (ADM). Results are reported on frequency of ADM use, reasons for use, and perceived effectiveness of use in general population surveys across 20 countries.
Face-to-face interviews with community samples totaling n = 49 919 respondents in the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys asked about ADM use anytime in the prior 12 months in conjunction with validated fully structured diagnostic interviews. Treatment questions were administered independently of diagnoses and asked of all respondents.
3.1% of respondents reported ADM use within the past 12 months. In high-income countries (HICs), depression (49.2%) and anxiety (36.4%) were the most common reasons for use. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), depression (38.4%) and sleep problems (31.9%) were the most common reasons for use. Prevalence of use was 2–4 times as high in HICs as LMICs across all examined diagnoses. Newer ADMs were proportionally used more often in HICs than LMICs. Across all conditions, ADMs were reported as very effective by 58.8% of users and somewhat effective by an additional 28.3% of users, with both proportions higher in LMICs than HICs. Neither ADM class nor reason for use was a significant predictor of perceived effectiveness.
ADMs are in widespread use and for a variety of conditions including but going beyond depression and anxiety. In a general population sample from multiple LMICs and HICs, ADMs were widely perceived to be either very or somewhat effective by the people who use them.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is characterised by a recurrent course and high comorbidity rates. A lifespan perspective may therefore provide important information regarding health outcomes. The aim of the present study is to examine mental disorders that preceded 12-month MDD diagnosis and the impact of these disorders on depression outcomes.
Data came from 29 cross-sectional community epidemiological surveys of adults in 27 countries (n = 80 190). The Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) was used to assess 12-month MDD and lifetime DSM-IV disorders with onset prior to the respondent's age at interview. Disorders were grouped into depressive distress disorders, non-depressive
distress disorders, fear disorders and externalising disorders. Depression outcomes included 12-month suicidality, days out of role and impairment in role functioning.
Among respondents with 12-month MDD, 94.9% (s.e. = 0.4) had at least one prior disorder (including previous MDD), and 64.6% (s.e. = 0.9) had at least one prior, non-MDD disorder. Previous non-depressive distress, fear and externalising disorders, but not depressive distress disorders, predicted higher impairment (OR = 1.4–1.6) and suicidality (OR = 1.5–2.5), after adjustment for sociodemographic variables. Further adjustment for MDD characteristics weakened, but did not eliminate, these associations. Associations were largely driven by current comorbidities, but both remitted and current externalising disorders predicted suicidality among respondents with 12-month MDD.
These results illustrate the importance of careful psychiatric history taking regarding current anxiety disorders and lifetime externalising disorders in individuals with MDD.
Depressive and anxiety disorders are highly comorbid, which has been theorized to be due to an underlying internalizing vulnerability. We aimed to identify groups of participants with differing vulnerabilities by examining the course of internalizing psychopathology up to age 45.
We used data from 24158 participants (aged 45+) in 23 population-based cross-sectional World Mental Health Surveys. Internalizing disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). We applied latent class growth analysis (LCGA) and investigated the characteristics of identified classes using logistic or linear regression.
The best-fitting LCGA solution identified eight classes: a healthy class (81.9%), three childhood-onset classes with mild (3.7%), moderate (2.0%), or severe (1.1%) internalizing comorbidity, two puberty-onset classes with mild (4.0%) or moderate (1.4%) comorbidity, and two adult-onset classes with mild comorbidity (2.7% and 3.2%). The childhood-onset severe class had particularly unfavorable sociodemographic outcomes compared to the healthy class, with increased risks of being never or previously married (OR = 2.2 and 2.0, p < 0.001), not being employed (OR = 3.5, p < 0.001), and having a low/low-average income (OR = 2.2, p < 0.001). Moderate or severe (v. mild) comorbidity was associated with 12-month internalizing disorders (OR = 1.9 and 4.8, p < 0.001), disability (B = 1.1–2.3, p < 0.001), and suicidal ideation (OR = 4.2, p < 0.001 for severe comorbidity only). Adult (v. childhood) onset was associated with lower rates of 12-month internalizing disorders (OR = 0.2, p < 0.001).
We identified eight transdiagnostic trajectories of internalizing psychopathology. Unfavorable outcomes were concentrated in the 1% of participants with childhood onset and severe comorbidity. Early identification of this group may offer opportunities for preventive interventions.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Shortfalls in treatment quantity and quality are well-established, but the specific gaps in pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy are poorly understood. This paper analyzes the gap in treatment coverage for MDD and identifies critical bottlenecks.
Seventeen surveys were conducted across 15 countries by the World Health Organization-World Mental Health Surveys Initiative. Of 35 012 respondents, 3341 met DSM-IV criteria for 12-month MDD. The following components of effective treatment coverage were analyzed: (a) any mental health service utilization; (b) adequate pharmacotherapy; (c) adequate psychotherapy; and (d) adequate severity-specific combination of both.
MDD prevalence was 4.8% (s.e., 0.2). A total of 41.8% (s.e., 1.1) received any mental health services, 23.2% (s.e., 1.5) of which was deemed effective. This 90% gap in effective treatment is due to lack of utilization (58%) and inadequate quality or adherence (32%). Critical bottlenecks are underutilization of psychotherapy (26 percentage-points reduction in coverage), underutilization of psychopharmacology (13-point reduction), inadequate physician monitoring (13-point reduction), and inadequate drug-type (10-point reduction). High-income countries double low-income countries in any mental health service utilization, adequate pharmacotherapy, adequate psychotherapy, and adequate combination of both. Severe cases are more likely than mild-moderate cases to receive either adequate pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy, but less likely to receive an adequate combination.
Decision-makers need to increase the utilization and quality of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Innovations such as telehealth for training and supervision plus non-specialist or community resources to deliver pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy could address these bottlenecks.
There is a substantial proportion of patients who drop out of treatment before they receive minimally adequate care. They tend to have worse health outcomes than those who complete treatment. Our main goal is to describe the frequency and determinants of dropout from treatment for mental disorders in low-, middle-, and high-income countries.
Respondents from 13 low- or middle-income countries (N = 60 224) and 15 in high-income countries (N = 77 303) were screened for mental and substance use disorders. Cross-tabulations were used to examine the distribution of treatment and dropout rates for those who screened positive. The timing of dropout was examined using Kaplan–Meier curves. Predictors of dropout were examined with survival analysis using a logistic link function.
Dropout rates are high, both in high-income (30%) and low/middle-income (45%) countries. Dropout mostly occurs during the first two visits. It is higher in general medical rather than in specialist settings (nearly 60% v. 20% in lower income settings). It is also higher for mild and moderate than for severe presentations. The lack of financial protection for mental health services is associated with overall increased dropout from care.
Extending financial protection and coverage for mental disorders may reduce dropout. Efficiency can be improved by managing the milder clinical presentations at the entry point to the mental health system, providing adequate training, support and specialist supervision for non-specialists, and streamlining referral to psychiatrists for more severe cases.
Previous work has identified associations between psychotic experiences (PEs) and general medical conditions (GMCs), but their temporal direction remains unclear as does the extent to which they are independent of comorbid mental disorders.
In total, 28 002 adults in 16 countries from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys were assessed for PEs, GMCs and 21 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) mental disorders. Discrete-time survival analyses were used to estimate the associations between PEs and GMCs with various adjustments.
After adjustment for comorbid mental disorders, temporally prior PEs were significantly associated with subsequent onset of 8/12 GMCs (arthritis, back or neck pain, frequent or severe headache, other chronic pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and peptic ulcer) with odds ratios (ORs) ranging from 1.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1–1.5] to 1.9 (95% CI 1.4–2.4). In contrast, only three GMCs (frequent or severe headache, other chronic pain and asthma) were significantly associated with subsequent onset of PEs after adjustment for comorbid GMCs and mental disorders, with ORs ranging from 1.5 (95% CI 1.2–1.9) to 1.7 (95% CI 1.2–2.4).
PEs were associated with the subsequent onset of a wide range of GMCs, independent of comorbid mental disorders. There were also associations between some medical conditions (particularly those involving chronic pain) and subsequent PEs. Although these findings will need to be confirmed in prospective studies, clinicians should be aware that psychotic symptoms may be risk markers for a wide range of adverse health outcomes. Whether PEs are causal risk factors will require further research.
The patterns of comorbidity among mental disorders have led researchers to model the underlying structure of psychopathology. While studies have suggested a structure including internalizing and externalizing disorders, less is known with regard to the cross-national stability of this model. Moreover, little data are available on the placement of eating disorders, bipolar disorder and psychotic experiences (PEs) in this structure.
We evaluated the structure of mental disorders with data from the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview, including 15 lifetime mental disorders and six PEs. Respondents (n = 5478–15 499) were included from 10 high-, middle- and lower middle-income countries across the world aged 18 years or older. Confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) were used to evaluate and compare the fit of different factor structures to the lifetime disorder data. Measurement invariance was evaluated with multigroup CFA (MG-CFA).
A second-order model with internalizing and externalizing factors and fear and distress subfactors best described the structure of common mental disorders. MG-CFA showed that this model was stable across countries. Of the uncommon disorders, bipolar disorder and eating disorder were best grouped with the internalizing factor, and PEs with a separate factor.
These results indicate that cross-national patterns of lifetime common mental-disorder comorbidity can be explained with a second-order underlying structure that is stable across countries and can be extended to also cover less common mental disorders.
Traumatic events are associated with increased risk of psychotic experiences, but it is unclear whether this association is explained by mental disorders prior to psychotic experience onset.
To investigate the associations between traumatic events and subsequent psychotic experience onset after adjusting for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental disorders.
We assessed 29 traumatic event types and psychotic experiences from the World Mental Health surveys and examined the associations of traumatic events with subsequent psychotic experience onset with and without adjustments for mental disorders.
Respondents with any traumatic events had three times the odds of other respondents of subsequently developing psychotic experiences (OR=3.1, 95% CI 2.7–3.7), with variability in strength of association across traumatic event types. These associations persisted after adjustment for mental disorders.
Exposure to traumatic events predicts subsequent onset of psychotic experiences even after adjusting for comorbid mental disorders.
Although childhood adversities are known to predict increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after traumatic experiences, it is unclear whether this association varies by childhood adversity or traumatic experience types or by age.
To examine variation in associations of childhood adversities with PTSD according to childhood adversity types, traumatic experience types and life-course stage.
Epidemiological data were analysed from the World Mental Health Surveys (n = 27017).
Four childhood adversities (physical and sexual abuse, neglect, parent psychopathology) were associated with similarly increased odds of PTSD following traumatic experiences (odds ratio (OR)=1.8), whereas the other eight childhood adversities assessed did not predict PTSD. Childhood adversity–PTSD associations did not vary across traumatic experience types, but were stronger in childhood-adolescence and early-middle adulthood than later adulthood.
Childhood adversities are differentially associated with PTSD, with the strongest associations in childhood-adolescence and early-middle adulthood. Consistency of associations across traumatic experience types suggests that childhood adversities are associated with generalised vulnerability to PTSD following traumatic experiences.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of disability worldwide.
To examine the: (a) 12-month prevalence of DSM-IV MDD; (b) proportion aware that they have a problem needing treatment and who want care; (c) proportion of the latter receiving treatment; and (d) proportion of such treatment meeting minimal standards.
Representative community household surveys from 21 countries as part of the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys.
Of 51 547 respondents, 4.6% met 12-month criteria for DSM-IV MDD and of these 56.7% reported needing treatment. Among those who recognised their need for treatment, most (71.1%) made at least one visit to a service provider. Among those who received treatment, only 41.0% received treatment that met minimal standards. This resulted in only 16.5% of all individuals with 12-month MDD receiving minimally adequate treatment.
Only a minority of participants with MDD received minimally adequate treatment: 1 in 5 people in high-income and 1 in 27 in low-/lower-middle-income countries. Scaling up care for MDD requires fundamental transformations in community education and outreach, supply of treatment and quality of services.
Previous research suggests that many people receiving mental health
treatment do not meet criteria for a mental disorder but are rather ‘the
To examine the association of past-year mental health treatment with
The World Health Organization's World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys
interviewed community samples of adults in 23 countries
(n = 62 305) about DSM-IV disorders and treatment in
the past 12 months for problems with emotions, alcohol or drugs.
Roughly half (52%) of people who received treatment met criteria for a
past-year DSM-IV disorder, an additional 18% for a lifetime disorder and
an additional 13% for other indicators of need (multiple subthreshold
disorders, recent stressors or suicidal behaviours). Dose–response
associations were found between number of indicators of need and
The vast majority of treatment in the WMH countries goes to patients with
mental disorders or other problems expected to benefit from
Previous community surveys of the drop out from mental health treatment have been carried out only in the USA and Canada.
To explore mental health treatment drop out in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys.
Representative face-to-face household surveys were conducted among adults in 24 countries. People who reported mental health treatment in the 12 months before interview (n = 8482) were asked about drop out, defined as stopping treatment before the provider wanted.
Overall, drop out was 31.7%: 26.3% in high-income countries, 45.1% in upper-middle-income countries, and 37.6% in low/ lower/middle-income countries. Drop out from psychiatrists was 21.3% overall and similar across country income groups (high 20.3%, upper-middle 23.6%, low/lower-middle 23.8%) but the pattern of drop out across other sectors differed by country income group. Drop out was more likely early in treatment, particularly after the second visit.
Drop out needs to be reduced to ensure effective treatment.
Mental and physical disorders are associated with total disability, but
their effects on days with partial disability (i.e. the ability to
perform some, but not full-role, functioning in daily life) are not well
To estimate individual (i.e. the consequences for an individual with a
disorder) and societal effects (i.e. the avoidable partial disability in
the society due to disorders) of mental and physical disorders on days
with partial disability around the world.
Respondents from 26 nationally representative samples (n
= 61 259, age 18+) were interviewed regarding mental and physical
disorders, and day-to-day functioning. The Composite International
Diagnostic Interview, version 3.0 (CIDI 3.0) was used to assess mental
disorders; partial disability (expressed in full day equivalents) was
assessed with the World Health Organization Disability Assessment
Schedule in the CIDI 3.0.
Respondents with disorders reported about 1.58 additional disability days
per month compared with respondents without disorders. At the individual
level, mental disorders (especially post-traumatic stress disorder,
depression and bipolar disorder) yielded a higher number of days with
disability than physical disorders. At the societal level, the population
attributable risk proportion due to physical and mental disorders was 49%
and 15% respectively.
Mental and physical disorders have a considerable impact on partial
disability, at both the individual and at the societal level. Physical
disorders yielded higher effects on partial disability than mental
Associations between specific parent and offspring mental disorders are likely to have been overestimated in studies that have failed to control for parent comorbidity.
To examine the associations of parent with respondent disorders.
Data come from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health Surveys (n = 51 507). Respondent disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and parent disorders with informant-based Family History Research Diagnostic Criteria interviews.
Although virtually all parent disorders examined (major depressive, generalised anxiety, panic, substance and antisocial behaviour disorders and suicidality) were significantly associated with offspring disorders in multivariate analyses, little specificity was found. Comorbid parent disorders had significant sub-additive associations with offspring disorders. Population-attributable risk proportions for parent disorders were 12.4% across all offspring disorders, generally higher in high- and upper-middle- than low-/lower-middle-income countries, and consistently higher for behaviour (11.0–19.9%) than other (7.1–14.0%) disorders.
Parent psychopathology is a robust non-specific predictor associated with a substantial proportion of offspring disorders.
Although significant associations of childhood adversities with adult mental disorders are widely documented, most studies focus on single childhood adversities predicting single disorders.
To examine joint associations of 12 childhood adversities with first onset of 20 DSM–IV disorders in World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys in 21 countries.
Nationally or regionally representative surveys of 51 945 adults assessed childhood adversities and lifetime DSM–IV disorders with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
Childhood adversities were highly prevalent and interrelated. Childhood adversities associated with maladaptive family functioning (e.g. parental mental illness, child abuse, neglect) were the strongest predictors of disorders. Co-occurring childhood adversities associated with maladaptive family functioning had significant subadditive predictive associations and little specificity across disorders. Childhood adversities account for 29.8% of all disorders across countries.
Childhood adversities have strong associations with all classes of disorders at all life-course stages in all groups of WMH countries. Long-term associations imply the existence of as-yet undetermined mediators.
Burden-of-illness data, which are often used in setting healthcare policy-spending priorities, are unavailable for mental disorders in most countries.
To examine one central aspect of illness burden, the association of serious mental illness with earnings, in the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys.
The WMH Surveys were carried out in 10 high-income and 9 low- and middle-income countries. The associations of personal earnings with serious mental illness were estimated.
Respondents with serious mental illness earned on average a third less than median earnings, with no significant between-country differences (χ2(9) = 5.5–8.1, P = 0.52–0.79). These losses are equivalent to 0.3–0.8% of total national earnings. Reduced earnings among those with earnings and the increased probability of not earning are both important components of these associations.
These results add to a growing body of evidence that mental disorders have high societal costs. Decisions about healthcare resource allocation should take these costs into consideration.