Depression rates in Sub Saharan Africa

June 7, 2015

Depression affects more than twelve per cent of sub Saharan Africa population due to poverty, diseases including but not limited to AIDS, cancer, malaria and Tuberculosis among others that continues to crowd out depression as the second top public health risk after AIDS in most countries in the region.In each year, approximately three in every ten Africans will experience a mental illness.Mental illnesses are the second leading cause of disability burden in Sub Saharan Africa,accounting for an estimated 34% of the total years lost due to disability.About 19% of people will experience a major depressive episode in one year period, with 10% of women and 13% of men affected. Approximately 22 % of Africans will be affected by an anxiety disorder in any 12 month period.About 9% of Africans are affected by psychotic illness such as schizophrenia, where there is a loss of contact with reality during episodes of illness.Approximately 16% of Africans will experience some type of eating disorder in their life, with women 14 times more likely than men.About 25.9% of Africans will experience substance abuse disorders in any 12-month period, with men more than twice as likely as women to have substance abuse disorders.Prevalence of mental illness decreases with age, with prevalence greatest among 20-35 year olds.Women are more likely than men to seek help for anxiety disorders with 32% compared with 19% and mood disorders 43% compared with 27%.A new survey report that I have a copy show that 56% of people with a mental disorder had used a health service and 46% consulted a GP within the 12 months before the survey.Women are more likely than men to use services for mental health problems.

Limited research suggests that war torn countries people like DR Congo, Burundi, Central African Republic and South Sudan experience mental disorders at least as often as others in stable countries like South Africa that recently experiences violent xenophobic attacks on African immigrants.In South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, the prevalence of mental or behavioral disorders among people born in rural areas is similar to those born in urban areas.Many violent people have no history of mental disorder and most people with mental illness at 89% have no history of violence.In 2011, a study that involved approximately 19,000 people aged over 16 years and living in private dwellings in East, central, Southern and Western countries of Africa revealed that almost one in four Africans surveyed had experienced symptoms of a mental disorder during the 12 month period before the survey.Anxiety disorders were most common at 18%, followed by affective disorders 33 % of which depression is 7.5%, and substance use disorders 13.6% of which 7.8% is alcohol related.The percentage of people meeting the criteria for diagnosis of a mental illness was highest in younger people, with the prevalence decreasing with age. Fourty-five per cent of 20-25 year olds had experienced a mental disorder, while only 9% of people aged 60 years and over had experienced a mental disorder.People unemployed or not in the paid workforce had the highest rates of mental disorder, a prevalence rate of 68% for unemployed men and 53% for unemployed women.Those with a mental disorder averaged five days out of role i.e. unable to undertake normal activity because of health problems over a one month period. This compared with two day out of role for people with no physical or mental condition. Only 16% of people with a mental disorder had used a health service during the survey period.Hospital admissions for mental health problems were rare and less than 2% over the one year period. Women were more likely than men to use services for mental health problems.

Contador Harrison