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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.
Epidemiological studies indicate that individuals with one type of mental disorder have an increased risk of subsequently developing other types of mental disorders. This study aimed to undertake a comprehensive analysis of pair-wise lifetime comorbidity across a range of common mental disorders based on a diverse range of population-based surveys.
The WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys assessed 145 990 adult respondents from 27 countries. Based on retrospectively-reported age-of-onset for 24 DSM-IV mental disorders, associations were examined between all 548 logically possible temporally-ordered disorder pairs. Overall and time-dependent hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards models. Absolute risks were estimated using the product-limit method. Estimates were generated separately for men and women.
Each prior lifetime mental disorder was associated with an increased risk of subsequent first onset of each other disorder. The median HR was 12.1 (mean = 14.4; range 5.2–110.8, interquartile range = 6.0–19.4). The HRs were most prominent between closely-related mental disorder types and in the first 1–2 years after the onset of the prior disorder. Although HRs declined with time since prior disorder, significantly elevated risk of subsequent comorbidity persisted for at least 15 years. Appreciable absolute risks of secondary disorders were found over time for many pairs.
Survey data from a range of sites confirms that comorbidity between mental disorders is common. Understanding the risks of temporally secondary disorders may help design practical programs for primary prevention of secondary disorders.
A substantial proportion of persons with mental disorders seek treatment from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professionals. However, data on how CAM contacts vary across countries, mental disorders and their severity, and health care settings is largely lacking. The aim was therefore to investigate the prevalence of contacts with CAM providers in a large cross-national sample of persons with 12-month mental disorders.
In the World Mental Health Surveys, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview was administered to determine the presence of past 12 month mental disorders in 138 801 participants aged 18–100 derived from representative general population samples. Participants were recruited between 2001 and 2012. Rates of self-reported CAM contacts for each of the 28 surveys across 25 countries and 12 mental disorder groups were calculated for all persons with past 12-month mental disorders. Mental disorders were grouped into mood disorders, anxiety disorders or behavioural disorders, and further divided by severity levels. Satisfaction with conventional care was also compared with CAM contact satisfaction.
An estimated 3.6% (standard error 0.2%) of persons with a past 12-month mental disorder reported a CAM contact, which was two times higher in high-income countries (4.6%; standard error 0.3%) than in low- and middle-income countries (2.3%; standard error 0.2%). CAM contacts were largely comparable for different disorder types, but particularly high in persons receiving conventional care (8.6–17.8%). CAM contacts increased with increasing mental disorder severity. Among persons receiving specialist mental health care, CAM contacts were reported by 14.0% for severe mood disorders, 16.2% for severe anxiety disorders and 22.5% for severe behavioural disorders. Satisfaction with care was comparable with respect to CAM contacts (78.3%) and conventional care (75.6%) in persons that received both.
CAM contacts are common in persons with severe mental disorders, in high-income countries, and in persons receiving conventional care. Our findings support the notion of CAM as largely complementary but are in contrast to suggestions that this concerns person with only mild, transient complaints. There was no indication that persons were less satisfied by CAM visits than by receiving conventional care. We encourage health care professionals in conventional settings to openly discuss the care patients are receiving, whether conventional or not, and their reasons for doing so.
The treatment gap between the number of people with mental disorders and the number treated represents a major public health challenge. We examine this gap by socio-economic status (SES; indicated by family income and respondent education) and service sector in a cross-national analysis of community epidemiological survey data.
Data come from 16 753 respondents with 12-month DSM-IV disorders from community surveys in 25 countries in the WHO World Mental Health Survey Initiative. DSM-IV anxiety, mood, or substance disorders and treatment of these disorders were assessed with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
Only 13.7% of 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI cases in lower-middle-income countries, 22.0% in upper-middle-income countries, and 36.8% in high-income countries received treatment. Highest-SES respondents were somewhat more likely to receive treatment, but this was true mostly for specialty mental health treatment, where the association was positive with education (highest treatment among respondents with the highest education and a weak association of education with treatment among other respondents) but non-monotonic with income (somewhat lower treatment rates among middle-income respondents and equivalent among those with high and low incomes).
The modest, but nonetheless stronger, an association of education than income with treatment raises questions about a financial barriers interpretation of the inverse association of SES with treatment, although future within-country analyses that consider contextual factors might document other important specifications. While beyond the scope of this report, such an expanded analysis could have important implications for designing interventions aimed at increasing mental disorder treatment among socio-economically disadvantaged people.
Although there is robust evidence linking childhood adversities (CAs) and an increased risk for psychotic experiences (PEs), little is known about whether these associations vary across the life-course and whether mental disorders that emerge prior to PEs explain these associations.
We assessed CAs, PEs and DSM-IV mental disorders in 23 998 adults in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. Discrete-time survival analysis was used to investigate the associations between CAs and PEs, and the influence of mental disorders on these associations using multivariate logistic models.
Exposure to CAs was common, and those who experienced any CAs had increased odds of later PEs [odds ratio (OR) 2.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.9–2.6]. CAs reflecting maladaptive family functioning (MFF), including abuse, neglect, and parent maladjustment, exhibited the strongest associations with PE onset in all life-course stages. Sexual abuse exhibited a strong association with PE onset during childhood (OR 8.5, 95% CI 3.6–20.2), whereas Other CA types were associated with PE onset in adolescence. Associations of other CAs with PEs disappeared in adolescence after adjustment for prior-onset mental disorders. The population attributable risk proportion (PARP) for PEs associated with all CAs was 31% (24% for MFF).
Exposure to CAs is associated with PE onset throughout the life-course, although sexual abuse is most strongly associated with childhood-onset PEs. The presence of mental disorders prior to the onset of PEs does not fully explain these associations. The large PARPs suggest that preventing CAs could lead to a meaningful reduction in PEs in the population.
Research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following natural and human-made disasters has been undertaken for more than three decades. Although PTSD prevalence estimates vary widely, most are in the 20–40% range in disaster-focused studies but considerably lower (3–5%) in the few general population epidemiological surveys that evaluated disaster-related PTSD as part of a broader clinical assessment. The World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys provide an opportunity to examine disaster-related PTSD in representative general population surveys across a much wider range of sites than in previous studies.
Although disaster-related PTSD was evaluated in 18 WMH surveys, only six in high-income countries had enough respondents for a risk factor analysis. Predictors considered were socio-demographics, disaster characteristics, and pre-disaster vulnerability factors (childhood family adversities, prior traumatic experiences, and prior mental disorders).
Disaster-related PTSD prevalence was 0.0–3.8% among adult (ages 18+) WMH respondents and was significantly related to high education, serious injury or death of someone close, forced displacement from home, and pre-existing vulnerabilities (prior childhood family adversities, other traumas, and mental disorders). Of PTSD cases 44.5% were among the 5% of respondents classified by the model as having highest PTSD risk.
Disaster-related PTSD is uncommon in high-income WMH countries. Risk factors are consistent with prior research: severity of exposure, history of prior stress exposure, and pre-existing mental disorders. The high concentration of PTSD among respondents with high predicted risk in our model supports the focus of screening assessments that identify disaster survivors most in need of preventive interventions.
Although mental disorders are significant predictors of educational attainment throughout the entire educational career, most research on mental disorders among students has focused on the primary and secondary school years.
The World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys were used to examine the associations of mental disorders with college entry and attrition by comparing college students (n = 1572) and non-students in the same age range (18–22 years; n = 4178), including non-students who recently left college without graduating (n = 702) based on surveys in 21 countries (four low/lower-middle income, five upper-middle-income, one lower-middle or upper-middle at the times of two different surveys, and 11 high income). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence and age-of-onset of DSM-IV anxiety, mood, behavioral and substance disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
One-fifth (20.3%) of college students had 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI disorders; 83.1% of these cases had pre-matriculation onsets. Disorders with pre-matriculation onsets were more important than those with post-matriculation onsets in predicting subsequent college attrition, with substance disorders and, among women, major depression the most important such disorders. Only 16.4% of students with 12-month disorders received any 12-month healthcare treatment for their mental disorders.
Mental disorders are common among college students, have onsets that mostly occur prior to college entry, in the case of pre-matriculation disorders are associated with college attrition, and are typically untreated. Detection and effective treatment of these disorders early in the college career might reduce attrition and improve educational and psychosocial functioning.
Considerable research has documented that exposure to traumatic events has negative effects on physical and mental health. Much less research has examined the predictors of traumatic event exposure. Increased understanding of risk factors for exposure to traumatic events could be of considerable value in targeting preventive interventions and anticipating service needs.
General population surveys in 24 countries with a combined sample of 68 894 adult respondents across six continents assessed exposure to 29 traumatic event types. Differences in prevalence were examined with cross-tabulations. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to determine whether traumatic event types clustered into interpretable factors. Survival analysis was carried out to examine associations of sociodemographic characteristics and prior traumatic events with subsequent exposure.
Over 70% of respondents reported a traumatic event; 30.5% were exposed to four or more. Five types – witnessing death or serious injury, the unexpected death of a loved one, being mugged, being in a life-threatening automobile accident, and experiencing a life-threatening illness or injury – accounted for over half of all exposures. Exposure varied by country, sociodemographics and history of prior traumatic events. Being married was the most consistent protective factor. Exposure to interpersonal violence had the strongest associations with subsequent traumatic events.
Given the near ubiquity of exposure, limited resources may best be dedicated to those that are more likely to be further exposed such as victims of interpersonal violence. Identifying mechanisms that account for the associations of prior interpersonal violence with subsequent trauma is critical to develop interventions to prevent revictimization.
In many epidemiological studies, women have been observed to consume psychotropic medication more often than men. However, the consistency of this relationship across Europe, with differences in mental health care (MHC) resources and reimbursement policies, is unknown.
Questions on 12-month psychotropic use (antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers) were asked to 34,204 respondents from 10 European countries of the EU-World Mental Health surveys. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition) criteria were used to determine 12-month prevalence of mood/anxiety disorders using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (v3.0).
For all participating countries, women were significantly more likely than men to use psychotropic medication within the previous 12 months (overall-OR = 2.04, 95% CI: 1.81–2.31). This relationship remained significant after adjusting for common sociodemographic factors (age, income level, employment status, education, marital status) and country-level indicators (MHC provision, private household out-of-pocket expenditure, and Gender Gap Index). In multivariable gender-stratified risk-factor analysis, both women and men were more likely to have taken psychotropic medication with increasing age, decreasing income level, and mental health care use within the past 12 months, with no significant differences between genders. When only including participants with a mental disorder, gender differences overall were still significant with any 12-month mood disorder but not with any 12-month anxiety disorder, remaining so after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and country-level indicators.
Women use psychotropic medication consistently more often than men, yet reasons for their use are similar between genders. These differences also appear to be contingent on the specific mental disorder.
To examine cross-national patterns and correlates of lifetime and 12-month comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders among people with lifetime and 12-month DSM-IV major depressive disorder (MDD).
Nationally or regionally representative epidemiological interviews were administered to 74 045 adults in 27 surveys across 24 countries in the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys. DSM-IV MDD, a wide range of comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders, and a number of correlates were assessed with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
45.7% of respondents with lifetime MDD (32.0–46.5% inter-quartile range (IQR) across surveys) had one of more lifetime anxiety disorders. A slightly higher proportion of respondents with 12-month MDD had lifetime anxiety disorders (51.7%, 37.8–54.0% IQR) and only slightly lower proportions of respondents with 12-month MDD had 12-month anxiety disorders (41.6%, 29.9–47.2% IQR). Two-thirds (68%) of respondents with lifetime comorbid anxiety disorders and MDD reported an earlier age-of-onset (AOO) of their first anxiety disorder than their MDD, while 13.5% reported an earlier AOO of MDD and the remaining 18.5% reported the same AOO of both disorders. Women and previously married people had consistently elevated rates of lifetime and 12-month MDD as well as comorbid anxiety disorders. Consistently higher proportions of respondents with 12-month anxious than non-anxious MDD reported severe role impairment (64.4 v. 46.0%; χ21 = 187.0, p < 0.001) and suicide ideation (19.5 v. 8.9%; χ21 = 71.6, p < 0.001). Significantly more respondents with 12-month anxious than non-anxious MDD received treatment for their depression in the 12 months before interview, but this difference was more pronounced in high-income countries (68.8 v. 45.4%; χ21 = 108.8, p < 0.001) than low/middle-income countries (30.3 v. 20.6%; χ21 = 11.7, p < 0.001).
Patterns and correlates of comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorders among people with DSM-IV MDD are similar across WMH countries. The narrow IQR of the proportion of respondents with temporally prior AOO of anxiety disorders than comorbid MDD (69.6–74.7%) is especially noteworthy. However, the fact that these proportions are not higher among respondents with 12-month than lifetime comorbidity means that temporal priority between lifetime anxiety disorders and MDD is not related to MDD persistence among people with anxious MDD. This, in turn, raises complex questions about the relative importance of temporally primary anxiety disorders as risk markers v. causal risk factors for subsequent MDD onset and persistence, including the possibility that anxiety disorders might primarily be risk markers for MDD onset and causal risk factors for MDD persistence.
To examine barriers to initiation and continuation of mental health treatment among individuals with common mental disorders.
Data were from the World Health Organization (WHO) World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Representative household samples were interviewed face to face in 24 countries. Reasons to initiate and continue treatment were examined in a subsample (n = 636 78) and analyzed at different levels of clinical severity.
Among those with a DSM-IV disorder in the past 12 months, low perceived need was the most common reason for not initiating treatment and more common among moderate and mild than severe cases. Women and younger people with disorders were more likely to recognize a need for treatment. A desire to handle the problem on one's own was the most common barrier among respondents with a disorder who perceived a need for treatment (63.8%). Attitudinal barriers were much more important than structural barriers to both initiating and continuing treatment. However, attitudinal barriers dominated for mild-moderate cases and structural barriers for severe cases. Perceived ineffectiveness of treatment was the most commonly reported reason for treatment drop-out (39.3%), followed by negative experiences with treatment providers (26.9% of respondents with severe disorders).
Low perceived need and attitudinal barriers are the major barriers to seeking and staying in treatment among individuals with common mental disorders worldwide. Apart from targeting structural barriers, mainly in countries with poor resources, increasing population mental health literacy is an important endeavor worldwide.
The World Mental Health Survey Initiative (WMHSI) has advanced our understanding of mental disorders by providing data suitable for analysis across many countries. However, these data have not yet been fully explored from a cross-national lifespan perspective. In particular, there is a shortage of research on the relationship between mood and anxiety disorders and age across countries. In this study we used multigroup methods to model the distribution of 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI mood and anxiety disorders across the adult lifespan in relation to determinants of mental health in 10 European Union (EU) countries.
Logistic regression was used to model the odds of any mood or any anxiety disorder as a function of age, gender, marital status, urbanicity and employment using a multigroup approach (n = 35500). This allowed for the testing of specific lifespan hypotheses across participating countries.
No simple geographical pattern exists with which to describe the relationship between 12-month prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders and age. Of the adults sampled, very few aged ⩾80 years met DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for these disorders. The associations between these disorders and key sociodemographic variables were relatively homogeneous across countries after adjusting for age.
Further research is required to confirm that there are indeed stages in the lifespan where the reported prevalence of mental disorders is low, such as among younger adults in the East and older adults in the West. This project illustrates the difficulties in conducting research among different age groups simultaneously.
Mental disorders may increase the risk of physical violence among married couples.
To estimate associations between premarital mental disorders and marital violence in a cross-national sample of married couples.
A total of 1821 married couples (3642 individuals) from 11 countries were interviewed as part of the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative. Sixteen mental disorders with onset prior to marriage were examined as predictors of marital violence reported by either spouse.
Any physical violence was reported by one or both spouses in 20% of couples, and was associated with husbands' externalising disorders (OR = 1.7, 95% CI 1.2–2.3). Overall, the population attributable risk for marital violence related to premarital mental disorders was estimated to be 17.2%.
Husbands' externalising disorders had a modest but consistent association with marital violence across diverse countries. This finding has implications for the development of targeted interventions to reduce risk of marital violence.
Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide; however, little
information is available about the treatment of suicidal people, or about
barriers to treatment.
To examine the receipt of mental health treatment and barriers to care
among suicidal people around the world.
Twenty-one nationally representative samples worldwide
(n=55 302; age 18 years and over) from the World
Health Organization's World Mental Health Surveys were interviewed
regarding past-year suicidal behaviour and past-year healthcare use.
Suicidal respondents who had not used services in the past year were
asked why they had not sought care.
Two-fifths of the suicidal respondents had received treatment (from 17%
in low-income countries to 56% in high-income countries), mostly from a
general medical practitioner (22%), psychiatrist (15%) or
non-psychiatrist (15%). Those who had actually attempted suicide were
more likely to receive care. Low perceived need was the most important
reason for not seeking help (58%), followed by attitudinal barriers such
as the wish to handle the problem alone (40%) and structural barriers
such as financial concerns (15%). Only 7% of respondents endorsed stigma
as a reason for not seeking treatment.
Most people with suicide ideation, plans and attempts receive no
treatment. This is a consistent and pervasive finding, especially in
low-income countries. Improving the receipt of treatment worldwide will
have to take into account culture-specific factors that may influence the
process of help-seeking.
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