In 2014, the journal Nature published data based on a 2013 study from University of Queensland researchers published in PLOS Medicine, which, among other things, listed the prevalence of depression for every country. Most of the countries with the highest rates of depression are located in the Middle East and North Africa. Here are the top five countries with the highest levels of depression:
Afghanistan: Unsurprisingly, war-torn Afghanistan leads the world in depression – more than 1 in 5 Afghanis have a depressive disorder and other conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are common. The nation has dealt with more or less continual upheaval and violence since the Saur Revolution of 1978.
Libya: In 2011, the Libyan Civil War overthrew the country’s longtime dictator, Moamaar Gadhafi. Unfortunately, the country has experienced violence ever since and is currently involved in a second civil war. Displacement from Libya as well as other countries in the region has led to a crisis of migration in the Mediterranean region. The mental health costs of these conflicts has been high; studies have found severe cases of depression and PTSD in the Libyan population.
Honduras: According to the United Nation’s Office of Drugs and Crime, this North American country was the murder capital of the world in 2011 and 2013. The violence, largely related to gangs and drugs, has led some researchers to label it as a “domestic crisis of public health.”
Palestine: This region of the Middle East has experienced violence and disorder since the late 1960s. A 2016 review appearing in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems found sizeable amounts of depression, anxiety and PTSD in Palestinians.
Bahrain: A small island monarchy in the Persian Gulf, Bahrain is a developed, wealthy country that has experienced unrest and protests since the “Arab Spring” in 2011. Interestingly, other studies have found depression might actually be more common in wealthier countries.
A global problem
In 2011, researchers collaborating with the WHO’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative interviewed over 89,000 people worldwide to examine the global prevalence of depression. Their results, published in the journal BioMed Central Medicine, found that 15 percent of the subjects from high-income countries were more at risk for depressive disorders, compared to 11 percent of subjects from low or middle-income countries. Major depressive episodes were also more common for subjects from high-income countries, at 28 percent – episodes were particularly high for subjects from France, the Netherlands and the United States.
The data also found depression occurred twice as often in women. Depression’s onset occurred two years earlier in low-income countries, although the difficulties associated with depression was more apparent in subjects from high-income countries.
“This is the first study which uses a standardized method to compare depression and major depressive episodes across countries and cultures,” said study co-author Evelyn Bromet, Ph.D., of Stony Brook University in New York. “We have shown that depression is a significant public-health concern across all regions of the world and is strongly linked to social conditions. Understanding the patterns and causes of depression can help global initiatives in reducing the impact of depression on individual lives and in reducing the burden to society.”
Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people aged between 15 and 43, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The condition responds to treatment; the National Institute of Health reports nearly 80 percent of people who receive treatment for depression show improvement in around two months. However, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, nearly 2 out of 3 people never get treated.
Untreated, depression can rule – and ruin – lives. The Sovereign Health Group is a leading provider of mental health treatment. Our dual diagnosis approach treats both the mental disorder and any underlying disorders to ensure the best possible chance at a full recovery. For more information, contact our 24/7 helpline.
About the author
Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for the Sovereign Health Group. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which’s he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at firstname.lastname@example.org.