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Ireland ranks in the highest top 10 countries worldwide for the percentage of the population affected by anxiety disorders at 6.3 per cent, while depressive disorders affect 4.8 per cent, according the latest prevalence estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Internationally, the proportion of the global population with anxiety disorders in 2015 is estimated to be 3.6 per cent. As with depression, anxiety disorders are more common among females than males (4.6 per cent compared to 2.6 per cent at the global level).

The report, “Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates” was released recently by the WHO to mark World Health Day and estimates more than 300 million people are now living with depression. This represents an increase of more than 18 per cent over the 10-year period between 2005 and 2015. The WHO report highlights depression as the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

The new estimates mark the high point in WHO’s year-long campaign “Depression: let’s talk”. The overall goal of the campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help.

Even in high-income countries, according to the WHO, nearly 50 per cent of people with depression do not get treatment. On average, just three per cent of government health budgets are invested in mental health, varying from less than one per cent in low-income countries to five per cent in high-income countries. WHO has identified strong links between depression and other non-communicable disorders and diseases. Depression increases the risk of substance use disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease; the opposite is also true, meaning that people with these other conditions have a higher risk of depression.