Being a woman, unemployed and living in a situation of social adversity are the three strongest trigger influences in subjects with a genetic predisposition to mental disorder. Moreover, in Andalusia, over 20% of the population present a mental disorder at some time in their lives. The most frequent disorders are the least serious—like depression, the most frequent disorder in 12% of the population, and anxiety disorders, present in nearly 10%. In contrast, nearly 3% suffer from psychotic disorders, the most severe form of mental illness.
These are some conclusions from the PISMA-ep study—to date, the largest epidemiologic study conducted in Andalusia in order to accurately determine both the principle (genetic and environmental) causes and the prevalence of mental disorder in the region. The project is led by Jorge Cervilla of the University of Granada Department of Psychiatry, in collaboration with the University Hospital (Hospital Universitario San Cecilio), the Andalusian School of Public Health (Escuela Andaluza de Salud Pública) and the Mental Health Program of the Andalusian Health Sevice (Servicio Andaluz de Salud).
The researchers have just completed the pilot study—the first results of which are already known—and this will serve to improve the definitive study method and make an initial estimate of disorder frequency. The study has produced results similar to those obtained in other large-scale studies conducted in the European Union.
Survey of 4500 Andalusian households
A few days ago, the PISMA-ep study began sampling. This involves a survey of a wide-ranging representative sample of the Andalusian population to collect data on the diagnosis of mental disorders and the identification of their causes. During the next three months, interviewers, accredited as field researchers employed by the Granada-based "Grupo Ítem" market research company, will visit nearly 4500 households across Andalusia.
"These data, together with those obtained from the definitive study that has begun simultaneously in all the Andalusian provinces, will be of great use in helping identify people at greater risk of suffering the onset of a mental disorder or of having a relapse," explains Jorge Cervilla. Clinical intervention at the right moment "can be the key to prevent someone from falling ill, or to make the episode less severe."