Undertreatment of people with major depressive disorder in 21 countries

G. Thornicroft, S. Chatterji, S. Evans-Lacko, M. Gruber, N. Sampson, S. Aguilar-Gaxiola, A. Al-Hamzawi, J. Alonso, L. Andrade, G. Borges, R. Bruffaerts, B. Bunting, José M. Caldas-de-Almeida, S. Florescu, G. De Girolamo, O. Gureje, J.M. Haro, Y. He, H. Hinkov, E. KaramN. Kawakami, S. Lee, F. Navarro-Mateu, M. Piazza, J. Posada-Villa, Y.T. De Galvis, R.C. Kessler

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312 Citations (Scopus)


Background Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Aims To examine the: (a) 12-month prevalence of DSM-IV MDD; (b) proportion aware that they have a problem needing treatment and who want care; (c) proportion of the latter receiving treatment; and (d) proportion of such treatment meeting minimal standards. Method Representative community household surveys from 21 countries as part of the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys. Results Of 51 547 respondents, 4.6% met 12-month criteria for DSM-IV MDD and of these 56.7% reported needing treatment. Among those who recognised their need for treatment, most (71.1%) made at least one visit to a service provider. Among those who received treatment, only 41.0% received treatment that met minimal standards. This resulted in only 16.5% of all individuals with 12-month MDD receiving minimally adequate treatment. Conclusions Only a minority of participants with MDD received minimally adequate treatment: 1 in 5 people in high-income and 1 in 27 in low-/lower-middle-income countries. Scaling up care for MDD requires fundamental transformations in community education and outreach, supply of treatment and quality of services. Declaration of interest In the past 3 years, R.C.K. received support for his epidemiological studies from Sanofi Aventis, was a consultant for Johnson & Johnson Wellness and Prevention and served on an advisory board for the Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. Lake Nona Life Project. R.C.K. is a co-owner of DataStat Inc., a market research firm that carries out healthcare research. © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2017.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • community
  • DSM-IV
  • education
  • health care
  • health care quality
  • health service
  • health survey
  • high income country
  • household
  • human
  • low income country
  • major clinical study
  • major depression
  • mental health
  • middle income country
  • multicenter study
  • Review
  • world health organization
  • adolescent
  • adult
  • aged
  • Depressive Disorder, Major
  • female
  • global health
  • male
  • mental health service
  • middle aged
  • patient attitude
  • prevalence
  • standards
  • statistics and numerical data
  • very elderly
  • young adult
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult


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