Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Is depression is an illness of affluence

A recent research study published in the July 2011 edition of BMC Medicine the researchers explain that major depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, yet epidemiologic data are not available for many countries. This is particularly true in low to middle-income countries. The study presents data on the prevalence, as well as impairment and demographic correlates of depression from 18 high and low to middle-income countries.

The research outcome seems to be that people living in wealthier nations are more likely to have experienced a depressive episode than those in low and middle-income countries.

Nearly 15% of those living in the 10 rich nations reported having at least one depressive episode in their lifetime. For poorer countries, the prevalence of a depressive episode was only 11% The two most depressed countries are France, with a 21% prevalence, and the U.S., with a 19% prevalence.

According to the researchers the cross-national divide in depression levels might be due to the sharp income inequality in wealthy nations. Another possible reason is the low level of awareness about mental illness in poorer countries. Or, say the researchers, it could be perhaps just be that depression is an illness of affluence.

The graphics is an attempt to contrast Google search volume by region against those countries with the highest prevalence of a depressive episode.

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