According to a large body of research demonstrating a high prevalence of mental health disorders, 50 percent of the population is likely to develop at least one disorder by age 75.
Scientists from The University of Queensland and Harvard Medical School found one in two people will develop a mental health disorder in their lifetime.
Data from more than 150,000 adults in 29 countries between 2001 and 2022 were analysed by Professor John McGrath of the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland, Professor Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues from 27 other countries. The data came from the World Mental Health Survey initiative, the largest-ever coordinated series of face-to-face interviews conducted by the World Health Organisation.
The findings, according to lead author Professor McGrath, show that mental health issues are highly prevalent, with 50% of the population experiencing at least one condition by the age of 75.
“The most common were mood disorders such as major depression or anxiety,” Professor McGrath said. “We also found the risk of certain mental disorders differed by sex,” he added.
The 3 most common mental health disorders among women:
- Specific phobia (a disabling anxiety that interferes with daily life)
- Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)
The 3 most common mental health disorders among men:
- Alcohol abuse
- Specific phobia
The typical emergence age for the emergence of mental health illnesses is 15-20 years
The study also discovered that young adulthood, adolescence, or childhood are the typical first emergence years for mental health illnesses.
“The peak age of first onset was at 15 years old, with a median age of onset of 19 for men and 20 for women,” Professor McGrath said. “This lends weight to the need to invest in basic neuroscience to understand why these disorders develop,” he further explained.
Allocate resources to ensure appropriate and timely support
Professor Kessler said investment was also needed in mental health services focusing on young people.
“Services need to be able to detect and treat common mental disorders promptly and be optimized to suit patients in these critical parts of their lives,” Professor Kessler said.
“By understanding the age at which these disorders commonly arise, we can tailor public health interventions and allocate resources to ensure that appropriate and timely support is available to individuals at risk.”
The findings, according to the researchers, offer important new information about the occurrence and timing of the start of mental disorders across a wide range of populations.
The study is published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
Materials provided by University of Queensland. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
John J McGrath, Ali Al-Hamzawi, Jordi Alonso, Yasmin Altwaijri, Laura H Andrade, Evelyn J Bromet, Ronny Bruffaerts, José Miguel Caldas de Almeida, Stephanie Chardoul, Wai Tat Chiu, Louisa Degenhardt, Olga V Demler, Finola Ferry, Oye Gureje, Josep Maria Haro, Elie G Karam, Georges Karam, Salma M Khaled, Viviane Kovess-Masfety, Marta Magno, Maria Elena Medina-Mora, Jacek Moskalewicz, Fernando Navarro-Mateu, Daisuke Nishi, Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, José Posada-Villa, Charlene Rapsey, Nancy A Sampson, Juan Carlos Stagnaro, Dan J Stein, Margreet ten Have, Yolanda Torres, Cristian Vladescu, Peter W Woodruff, Zahari Zarkov, Ronald C Kessler, Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, Ali Al-Hamzawi, Jordi Alonso, Yasmin A. Altwaijri, Laura Helena Andrade, Lukoye Atwoli, Corina Benjet, Evelyn J. Bromet, Ronny Bruffaerts, Brendan Bunting, José Miguel Caldas-de-Almeida, Graça Cardoso, Stephanie Chardoul, Alfredo H. Cía, Louisa Degenhardt, Giovanni De Girolamo, Oye Gureje, Josep Maria Haro, Meredith G. Harris, Hristo Hinkov, Chi-yi Hu, Peter De Jonge, Aimee N. Karam, Elie G. Karam, Georges Karam, Alan E. Kazdin, First Name Last Name, Norito Kawakami, Ronald C. Kessler, Andrzej Kiejna, Viviane Kovess-Masfety, John J. McGrath, Maria Elena Medina-Mora, Jacek Moskalewicz, Fernando Navarro-Mateu, Daisuke Nishi, Marina Piazza, José Posada-Villa, Kate M. Scott, Juan Carlos Stagnaro, Dan J. Stein, Margreet Ten Have, Yolanda Torres, Maria Carmen Viana, Daniel V. Vigo, Cristian Vladescu, David R. Williams, Peter Woodruff, Bogdan Wojtyniak, Miguel Xavier, Alan M. Zaslavsky. Age of onset and cumulative risk of mental disorders: a cross-national analysis of population surveys from 29 countries. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2023; DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(23)00193-1
University of Queensland. “Half the population to have a mental health disorder by 75.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/07/230731110734.htm>.
Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation
Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.
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