The mental health of Australians 2

4.2 Prevalence of affective disorders in different population sub-groups

Page last updated: May 2009

4.2.1 Sex and age
4.2.2 Social and demographic characteristics

4.2.1 Sex and age

The prevalence of affective disorders was higher in females (7.1% compared to 5.3% in males). This difference between the sexes was also true for depressive episode and dysthymia, which were around one and a half times higher in females. However, males and females experienced similar rates of bipolar affective disorder (1.8% and 1.7% respectively).

The prevalence of affective disorders was not strongly associated with age and the pattern varied between males and females (Figure 4-1). For females, the prevalence started high and declined in the older age groups. While for males the prevalence started lower, peaked for 35-44 year olds and then declined with increasing age.

Figure 4-1: Prevalence of 12-month affective disorders by age and sex


This graph is described in section 4.2.1
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4.2.2 Social and demographic characteristics

Affective disorders were more likely to occur among those who were widowed, separated or divorced (11.2%) and never married (9.3%) compared to those who were married or in de facto relationships (4.1%). The prevalence of affective disorders was highest among those who were unemployed (14.9%) compared to those not in the labour force (9.8%), and lowest among those who were employed (5.3%). It was highest for people who did not complete school (8.1%) and lowest for those with school qualifications only (4.2%) when compared with those with post-school qualifications (6.3%). The prevalence of affective disorders did not vary significantly by country of birth. However, there was a modest trend for people born in non-English speaking countries to have a lower prevalence of affective disorders (4.5%) compared to those born in Australia (6.6%) or another English-speaking country (6.0%) (Table 4-2).

Table 4-2: Prevalence of 12-month affective disorders by sex, marital status, labour force status, education and country of birth

Characteristic

Males (%)

Females (%)

Persons (%)

Marital status
Married/ De facto
2.4
5.4
4.1
Separated/ Divorced/ Widowed
14.3
8.8
11.2
Never married
7.8
10.7
9.3
Labour force status
Employed
4.8
5.6
5.3
Unemployed
13.3
15.1
14.9
Not in the labour force
9.9
10.0
9.8
Education
Post-school qualification
5.7
7.0
6.3
School qualification only
3.4
5.3
4.2
Did not complete school
6.6
9.5
8.1
Country of birth
Australia
5.6
7.6
6.6
Other English-speaking country
5.0
7.3
6.0
Non-English speaking country
4.1
4.9
4.5

Note: Numbers presented for marital status, labour force status and education are age-standardised.