Posted on Aug 02, 2023, 4 p.m.
Analysis of data from over 150,000 adults across 29 countries from 2001-2022 showed a high prevalence of mental health disorders, with 50% of the population developing at least one mental health disorder by the age of 75 years old, according to a cross-national study led by researchers from the University of Queensland and Harvard Medical School published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
Professor McGrath, the lead author, said that their results demonstrated the high prevalence of mental health disorders, with 1 in 2 people developing a mental health disorder by the time they reach 75 years old, and the most common were mood disorders such as anxiety or major depression.
The risk of certain mental health disorders was also found to differ between the sexes, with the three most common among women being depression, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and specific phobia (disabling anxiety that interferes with daily life); and the three most common mental health disorders among men were depression, specific phobia, and alcohol abuse.
Mental health disorders were found to typically first emerge in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood. "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."
"Services need to be able to detect and treat common mental disorders promptly, and be optimised 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 researchers believe that the outcomes of their study provide insights into the frequency and timing of mental health disorder onset based on different global populations, and they suggest that more investment is needed in mental health services that pay particular focus to younger people.
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