Wealth does not equal mental health?

According to a new cross-national survey published in BMC Medicine, people living in wealthier counties are more likely to have experienced a depressive episode than those living in low and middle-income countries.

89,000 people in 18 countries were surveyed for major depressive episodes using a standardized set of questions. Approximately 15 percent of those living in 10 high-income nations reported having at least one depressive episode in their lifetime, The Huffington Post reports. For lower-income countries, the incidence was 11 percent.

No matter the location, it was found that women are almost twice as likely to experience depression. In wealthier countries, low-income respondents have double the risk of experiencing a depressive episode.

According to the research team:

“On one level, it seems counterintuitive that people in high-income countries should experience more stress than those in low- to middle-income countries. However, it has been suggested that depression is to some extent an illness of affluence.”

The countries found to have the highest prevalence of a depressive episode are:

  1. France– 21 %
  2. United States– 19.2 %
  3. Brazil– 18.4 %

The countries found to have the lowest incidence are:

  1. Mexico– 8 %
  2. India– 9 %
  3. South Africa– 9.8%

Lead study author Dr. Evelyn Bromet, a professor of psychiatry at State University of New York at Stony Brook, says the fact that the same interview was used in all 18 countries is a potential weakness of the study. The standardized questions may not capture depression as well in low-income countries where mental health is not as widely discussed and where citizens may be less likely to open up to a foreign interviewer.

To see the full list, click here.

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