Australia among most depressed, anxious countries in the world

More than 300 million people across the world are now living with depression – an increase of more than 18% over the past decade

According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.3 million Australians (5.9% of the population) are experiencing a depressive disorder.

This is the highest rate of depression among countries in the Western Pacific Region, with New Zealand following close behind at 5.4% of its population.

Australia’s rate is the same as that of the United States, while Ukraine topped the worldwide list with 6.3% of its population affected by depression.

The lowest rates for depressive disorders were in Solomon Islands (2.9%), Papua New Guinea (3.0%), Timor-Leste (3.0%), Kiribati (3.1%), Micronesia (3.1%), Vanuatu (3.1%), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (3.2%), and Nepal (3.2%). 

Brazil topped the list for anxiety disorders at a whopping 9.3% of the population.

Meanwhile 1.6 million Australians (7% of the population) are experiencing an anxiety disorder.

For anxiety disorders in the Western Pacific Region, Australia came second only to New Zealand’s 7.3%.

The lowest rates for anxiety disorders were in Vietnam (2.2%), Niger (2.5%), Mali (2.6%) and Chad (2.6%).

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan says “these new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves”.

The alarming numbers come as Australia makes headway in mental health treatment, taking steps towards building a national strategy.

Last month, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that the Federal Government will be putting $4.2 billion into developing a new National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

Minister Hunt has already established a new mental health advisory panel to be co-chaired by Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan and National Mental Health Commission CEO Dr Peggy Brown.

“Four million Australians have a chronic or episodic mental health episode each year which effectively means almost every family has been touched by mental health challenges,” says Minister Hunt.

“Since coming into the portfolio the number one topic people stop to talk to me about is mental health and I am determined to do everything I can to deliver better outcomes for those that need support.

“We will continue to work closely with other mental health experts and leading organisations to strengthen the way we help people with mental illnesses every day.”

Source: Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates, World Health Organization 2017.

Previous Canberra graduate honoured with Gold Medal Award
Next Tribunal cracks down on overprescribing doctor

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.


  1. David Lund

    Haha, maybe the cost of living and mortgage stress has something to do with it! Wake up Australia!

    • Andrew

      The countries with a high wealth disparity are high on the list, those that are more equal are lower. Plot these results against countries Gini coefficient for confirmation.

    • Mickson Wallie

      depression has little to do with money mate, Bi-polar is a chemical imbalance in the brain, depression exists in the wealthy and the poor alike, so your opinion is not based on any fact

      • David Lund

        Thanks for the pharmacology lesson buddy. Do your research! Household expenses is the biggest stressor which can trigger such imbalances. The rich have their own stressors which triggers the imbalance. Maybe worrying about all the investments they have!

  2. William

    The trouble these days is that current generations have been spoilt and have too high expectations of instant gratification.

    • Mickson Wallie

      based on what evidence. sounds like something you made up

      • William

        Sorry about your mental health history.
        No it is fact, over the last 40 odd years the young have been spoilt by their parents, pampered by their teachers and never know want.

  3. Mickson Wallie

    australia building a national strategy yeah right, i have been in 10 psch hospitals in my life, around 9 years ago mental health services said i am high functioning and can sort my own life out ?? then i went to a doctor not so long ago asking for counselling and help and told that none was available, system in australia is a joke it focuses on crises not prevention

Leave a reply