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Study reveals sharp increase in mental disorders in Taiwan

2012/11/16 15:02:40

Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) The prevalence of common mental disorders has doubled over the past 20 years in Taiwan, paralleling increases in unemployment, divorce and suicide, according to the results of a study by Taiwan's top research institute, Academia Sinica.

Common mental disorders refer to non-psychotic depressive and anxiety disorders, which account for over 90 percent of all mental disorders, said Andrew Cheng, a research fellow at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences who led the study.

The research team analyzed data from 9,079 respondents and found that the prevalence rate of such disorders was 23.8 percent in 2010, up from 11.5 percent in 1990.

The risk factors for developing common mental disorders in Taiwan include being a woman, being married, being unemployed, having a lower level of education and having poor physical health, the research indicates.

While the effect of personal risk factors has remained constant over the past 20 years, the rising unemployment rate -- up from 1.7 percent to 5.2 percent as of 2010 -- caused the remarkable increase in the prevalence of common mental disorders.

The research was published online Nov. 12 in the world's leading general medical journal, The Lancet.

In a commentary also published in the journal, professor Martin Mckee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said that "this study tells us that Taiwan's economic miracle has come at the cost of mental health among its people."

(By Chen Chih-chung and Y.F. Low)