No national data on the prevalence of mental disorders are available in Iran. Such information may be a prerequisite for efficient national mental health intervention.
To determine the mental health status of a population sample aged 15 years and over.
Through random cluster sampling, 35 014 individuals were selected and evaluated using the 28-item version of the General Health Questionnaire. A complementary semi-structured clinical interview was also undertaken to detect learning disability (‘mental retardation’), epilepsy and psychosis.
About a fifth of the people in the study (25.9% of the women and 14.9% of the men) were detected as likely cases. The prevalence of mental disorders was 21.33% in rural areas and 20.9% in urban areas. Depression and anxiety symptoms were more prevalent than somatisation and social dysfunction. The interview of families by general practitioners revealed that the rates of learning disability epilepsy and psychosis were 1.4%, 1.2% and 0.6%, respectively Prevalence increased with age and was higher in the married, widowed, divorced, unemployed and retired people.
Prevalence rates are comparable with international studies. There is a wide regional difference in the country, and women are at greater risk.
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