Depression second leading cause of global disability burden

November 5, 2013

A study published this week in PLOS Medicine reports the most recent and comprehensive estimates on how much death and disability is attributable to depression, both world-wide and in individual countries and regions.

Rates and ranking among all causes of disability varied by country and by region. The rates are highest in Afghanistan and lowest in Japan, and depression ranks first in Central America and Central and Southeast Asia. Disability from depression affects mostly people in their working years, and women more than men.

To arrive at the estimates, the authors of the study, led by Alize Ferrari from the University of Queensland and the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, compiled relevant information from all published research studies on (MDD, also called ), and dysthymia, a milder chronic form of .

They then used mathematical tools to estimate a standard measure of disease burden: "disability-adjusted life years", or DALYs, calculated by adding together "years lived with a disability", or YLDs and "years lost because of disease-specific premature death" or YLLs. For some countries and regions, especially low-income countries, few studies had been published, and the researchers had to substitute actual numbers with reasonable estimates to calculate YLDs and DALYs.

When compared to other diseases and injuries, MDD ranked as the second leading cause of global disability (or YLDs) and eleventh leading cause of global burden (or DALYs) in 2010. However, MDD also contributes to mortality for a number of other conditions. When the researchers added DALYs attributable to MDD for two of them, namely suicide and , MDD ranked as the eighth leading cause of global burden.

Their results, the researchers say "not only highlight the fact that depressive disorders are a priority but also that it is important to understand variations in burden by disorder, country, region, age, sex, and year when setting global health objectives."

Explore further: Systematic analysis: High global burden of oral conditions—3.9 billion affected

More information: Ferrari AJ, Charlson FJ, Norman RE, Patten SB, Freedman G, et al. (2013) Burden of Depressive Disorders by Country, Sex, Age, and Year: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. PLoS Med 10(11): e1001547. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001547

Related Stories

Systematic analysis: High global burden of oral conditions—3.9 billion affected

May 29, 2013
Today, the International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR) published a paper titled "Global Burden of Oral Conditions in 1990-2010: A Systemic Analysis." The paper, written by lead author Wagner Marcenes, ...

Mental illness the largest contributor to disability worldwide

December 14, 2012
Mental illness is the largest contributor to disability, according to a report card on the world's health, The Global Burden of Disease 2010 (GBD 2010). The seven papers and two commentaries that make up the report will be ...

Growing share of HIV/AIDS burden shifts to changing group of regions

August 21, 2013
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is changing in unexpected ways in countries around the world, showing that greater attention and financial investment may be needed in places where the disease has not reached epidemic levels, according ...

United States losing ground to other countries in health outcomes

July 10, 2013
In nearly every major cause of premature death – from ischemic heart disease to diabetes to interpersonal violence – the United States trails its economic peers, according to new research from a global collaborative of ...

Millions harmed each year from unsafe medical care

September 18, 2013
More than 43 million people are injured worldwide each year due to unsafe medical care, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). These injuries result in the loss of nearly 23 million years of ...

Chinese people spend a greater proportion of their lives in good health than people in other G20 countries

June 6, 2013
However, the incidence of stroke, ischaemic heart disease, road injury, diabetes, and some cancers all increased in incidence during the same period, and poor diet, tobacco use, and high blood pressure all now present substantial ...

Recommended for you

Depression changes structure of the brain, study suggests

July 21, 2017
Changes in the brain's structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

MikeBowler
not rated yet Nov 06, 2013
so the view of the people on physorg is that disabilities are a burden?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.