Researchers found that major depressive disorder was the second leading cause of disability worldwide, or cause of global burden.
Findings revealed that when adding depressive disorder to two other conditions - suicide and ischemic heart disease - major depressive disorder ranked as the eighth leading cause of global burden.
When looking at rankings among all causes of disability between different countries and regions, they varied significantly. The rates of disability were highest in Afghanistan and lowest in Japan, while depression as a cause of disability ranked first in Central America and Central and Southeast Asia.
Additionally, disability as a result of depression was found to mainly affect people in their working years, and women were more affected than men.
The researchers found no significant link between global disability burden and dysthymia.(mood disorder consisting of the same cognitive and physical problems as in depression, with less severe but longer-lasting symptoms)
Commenting on their findings, the researchers say:
"Our findings not only highlight the fact that depressive disorders are a global health priority but also that it is important to understand variations in burden by disorder, country, region, age, sex and year when setting global health objectives."
"Furthermore, estimating the burden attributable to major depressive disorder as a risk factor for other health outcomes allows for a more accurate estimate of burden and reinforces the importance of implementing cost effectiveness interventions to reduce its ubiquitous burden."The researchers conclude that further improvements to the way the global burden of disease is measured, as well as access to more data detailing the effects of health and disease conditions within populations, will "enhance the precision" of burden estimates and create a better understanding surrounding the global burden of depressive disorders.