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Revista de Neuro-Psiquiatría

Print version ISSN 0034-8597


STUCCHI-PORTOCARRERO, Santiago. Is there really an “epidemic of depression”?. Rev Neuropsiquiatr [online]. 2017, vol.80, n.4, pp.261-264. ISSN 0034-8597.

For several years, there have been claims about a consistent worldwide prevalence increase of depressive and anxiety disorders. However, there may be alternative reasons to explain this “depression epidemic”: 1) Some investigations have reported data with opposite findings 2) The increase in life expectancy leads to a greater number of elderly people, more prone to depression. 3) As time passes, people tend to forget moments of distress, which could lead to assuming that current generations have a higher life prevalence of emotional disorders, and that the age of onset for depression may be younger than before. 4) The greater public dissemination and knowledge of mental health issues may allow more people to seek help for emotional problems that they have kept hidden for more or less long periods. 5) The limits between mental pathology and normality have been redefined over time, so that many conditions previously judged as normal would now meet criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis. In summary, there is no doubt that mental health deserves priority attention, but the evidence in favor of an increase in the prevalence of mental disorders is insufficient and questionable. At most one could speak of a greater current tendency to diagnose depression and anxiety, and on the other hand, of an authentic “epidemic” of psychotropic drug prescriptions.

Keywords : depression; anxiety; epidemic; psychiatry.

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