People in Affluent Nations May Be More Prone to Depression

A new study from the WHO suggests that affluent counties tend to have higher rates of depression than lower-income nations such as Mexico.

A new study from World Health Organization (WHO) researchers suggests that affluent counties, namely the U.S., tend to have higher rates of depression than lower-income nations such as Mexico.

Researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with people in 18 countries on five continents to assess their history of depression using a standardized list of nine criteria. The study included a total of 90,000 people and evalutated specific personal characteristics, such as age and relationship status. The countries were also divided into high- and middle-to-low income groups according to average household earnings.

Results of the study showed that an episode of clinical depression of people in the high-income nations was 15% as opposed to 11% in lower-income countries. The highest rates belonged to France and the United States who scored 21% and 19% respectively, while China and Mexico had the lowest with 6.5% and 8% respectively.

Evelyn Bromet, PhD, lead author of the study, stated that the richest countries in the world also tend to have the greatest levels of income inequality, which has been linked to higher rates of depression as well as many other chronic diseases. “Wherever you are, there’s always people doing better than you, Bromet stressed. “You’d think that countries that are better-off should have lower rates [of depression], but just because they have a high income doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of stress in the environment.”

Different age groups appeared to fare better than others depending on a country’s level of affluence. Older adults in high-income countries generally had lower rates of depression than their younger counterparts but the trend was reversed in several poorer countries.

Bromet says the study findings can help countries identify their own high-risk populations.