China Insights

5.8% of Chinese adults suffer from depression

Martin Guo

Editor-in-Chief, Kantar China Insights

Health 10.10.2016 / 11:10

Depressed woman on sofa 2 col

The ratio is lowest among 10 countries monitored by Kantar Health.

Depression is a common mental disorder and affects 350 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) it is a serious medical condition that decreases a person’s ability to function, leads to other medical problems and increases a person’s use of healthcare resources.

According to Kantar Health’s data* published on World Mental Health Day (October 10), 5.8% of Chinese adult population are suffering from it in 2016 – it is a slight increase from 5.7% in 2011 and the lowest among the 10 countries covered by Kantar Health. France (18.5%) and UK (18.3%) has the highest prevalence of adults with depression.

  China Brazil France Spain UK US
2011 5.71% 16.60% 18.45% 9.25% 18.36% 13.17%
2016 5.80%  16.55%  18.45%  9.34%  18.34%  13.14% 

Kantar Health’s National Health and Wellness Survey also showed that Chinese MDD sufferers are more likely to be female (54.7% vs 45.3%). This is in line with the global situation: In Brazil, 69.0% sufferers are female, while it is 64.2% in Spain. But in UK and US, the female proportions are much slower at 51%.

Besides low prevalence, China’s difference with other countries is that MDD sufferers’ mean age is 43.21 year old, very similar to people without it (43.70 year old). Chinese sufferers are also older than any other country.

In other countries, MDD sufferers are significantly younger than those without depression. Brazil has the youngest ones with patients’ mean age is only 36.59 year old, almost 5 years younger than those without it (41.66 year old). US has the biggest age group of nearly 10 years (38.84 vs 48.53).

The disease has dealt a blow to sufferers’ mental health, but if compare it across sufferers in different countries, Chinese are comparatively better: Their mean score of SF-36 mental life quality is 36.94, higher than other countries. The lowest is France (28.67). There aren’t much difference between physical life quality which fall in the range between 44 and 48.

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(China, Brazil data from 2015; UK, France, Spain and US data from 2016)

Among all Chinese sufferers, 39% are not taking any medicine. But it is not a unique situation: 46% US sufferers don’t use and medicine, neither do 47% of sufferers from five European countries. Japanese seems to be the group who most actively rely on medication where only 26% are not taking any drugs.

Source: Kantar Health

Editor's notes

* This data comes from Kantar Health’s Epi database, which is based on population studies and literature reviews;

* SF-36v2 Quality of Life Scale

The SF-36v2 is a series of 36 validated questions that are scored to provide an index of respondents’ mental health, physical health and overall quality of life. The individual components of the SF-36v2 scale include physical functioning, role limitations due to physical health problems, bodily pain, general health, vitality, social functioning and role limitations due to emotional problems and mental health.

In the National Health and Wellness Survey, SF-36v2 scores for analysis groups are compared to the general population and therapeutic category average to assess the physical and mental well-being of patients in each group;

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