The Prevalence of Mental Disorders in the Working Population over the Period of Global Economic Crisis

By Wang, JianLi; Smailes, Elizabeth et al. | Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, September 2010 | Go to article overview

The Prevalence of Mental Disorders in the Working Population over the Period of Global Economic Crisis


Wang, JianLi, Smailes, Elizabeth, Sareen, Jitender, Fick, Gordon H., Schmitz, Norbert, Patten, Scott B., Canadian Journal of Psychiatry


Objectives: The ongoing global economic crisis may have affected people's mental health. This study aimed to, among a sample of the working population, estimate and compare the prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders in different time intervals from January 2008 to October 2009 and to examine the demographic and socioeconomic correlates of mental disorders.

Methods: From January 2008 to October 2009, 3579 employees in Alberta were recruited using the random digit dialing method. Mental disorders were assessed using the World Health Organization's Composite International Diagnostic Interview-Auto 2.1. The lifetime and 12-month prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders in different time intervals were estimated and compared.

Results: The 12-month prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) before September 1, 2008; between September 1, 2008, and March 1, 2009; and between March 1, 2009, and October 30, 2009, was 5.1%, 6.8%, and 7.6% (P = 0.03), respectively. The lifetime prevalence of dysthymia reported during the 3 periods was 0.4%, 0.7%, and 1.5% (P= 0.006), respectively. No changes in the 12-month prevalence of social phobia, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder were found over time.

Conclusions: The ongoing global economic crisis may have contributed to the increased prevalence of MDD. Future studies are needed to monitor the changes in the prevalence and to describe how the event may affect people's employment status, income, and health.

Can J Psychiatry. 2010;55(9):598-605.

Clinical Implications

* There appeared to be an increased trend of the prevalence of MDD over the time of ongoing economic crisis.

* Among men and participants who were married or in common-law relationships, the prevalence of MDD increased with time.

* The lifetime prevalence of dysthymia increased with time interval of data collection.

Limitations

* This analysis was a cross-sectional study. No causal inference can be made.

* The collected data relied on self-report. Thus recall and reporting biases were possible.

* The analysis used weights accounting for sex and age effects. Effects of other important demographic and socioeconomic variables could not be adjusted by the weights.

Key Words: population-based, cross-sectional study, mental disorders, prevalence, financial crisis, major depression

Abbreviations used in this article

BD bipolar disorder

CATI computer-assisted telephone interview

CIDI Composite International Diagnostic Interview

DSM Diagnostic and Statistic Manual for Mental Disorders

GAD generalized anxiety disorder

MDD major depressive disorder

NCS-R National Comorbidity Survey Replication

WHO World Health Organization

Mental disorders are prevalent and a significant health issue worldwide.1 Mental disorders are also prevalent in the labour force.2'3 Because of the nature of mental disorders, they have a significantly negative impact on people's functioning, productivity, work loss and work cutback, and job turnover.1-9 Adequate functioning status is essential for people's quality of life. Similarly, maintaining a productive workforce and recruiting and retaining the most productive personnel are critical for the business community. In Canada, based on the data from the Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-Being conducted in 2002, the annual prevalence of major depressive episodes and social phobia in the working population was 4.6%10 and 3.1%," respectively. These estimates are lower than those of the NCS-R12 in the United States but slightly higher than the European figures.13 The prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders at the population level may be affected by many factors. One may be by natural disasters or global events that affect the broad population. It is unusual to be able to study the impact of a natural disaster or negative global event on the prevalence of mental disorders because, by the time a study is planned, the event has occurred. …

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