The mental health of Australians 2

Affective, anxiety and substance use disorders in the Australian population

Page last updated: May 2009

The survey was designed to estimate the prevalence of common mental disorders defined according to the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision (ICD-10). Three broad groups or classes of mental disorders were included in the survey – affective, anxiety and substance use disorders.

  • The survey found that one in 16 Australians aged 16-85 years (6.2%) had an affective disorder; one in seven (14.4%) had an anxiety disorder and one in 20 (5.1%) had a substance use disorder in the previous 12 months.

  • It should be noted that people may experience more than one class of mental disorder and more than one disorder within a class.

  • One in 20 people in the Australian population had depressive disorders (depressive episode and dysthymia) in the previous year (figure 7).

  • Females were more likely to have affective disorders (7.1% compared to 5.3% for males).

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (6.4%) and social phobia (4.7%) were the most common anxiety disorders (figure 8).

  • Females experienced a much higher rate of anxiety disorders compared to males (17.9% and 10.8%) and this was true for most types of anxiety disorders.

  • Alcohol harmful use disorder was the most common form of substance use disorder (2.9%) (figure 9).

  • Males were almost twice as likely as females to have alcohol harmful use disorder (3.8% compared to 2.1%).

  • People with affective disorders were more likely to be categorised with a severe mental disorder. Of those with affective disorders 51.1% were classified severe, compared to 22.2% with anxiety disorders and 20.5% with substance use disorders.

  • People with affective disorders had the greatest number of days out of role (6.2 days out of the previous 30 days) compared to those with anxiety disorders (4.4 days) and substance use disorders (3.3 days).
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Figure 7: Prevalence of affective disorders in the previous 12 months

Refer to the following text for a text equivalent of Figure 7: Prevalence of affective disorders in the previous 12 months

Text version of figure 7

Prevalence of affective disorders in the previous 12 months:
  • Depressive episode - 4.1%
  • Dysthymia - 1.3%
  • Bipolar affective disorder - 1.8%
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Figure 8: Prevalence of anxiety disorders in the previous 12 months

Refer to the following text for a text equivalent of Figure 8: Prevalence of anxiety disorders in the previous 12 months

Text version of figure 8

Prevalence of anxiety disorders in the previous 12 months:
  • Panic disorder - 2.6%
  • Agoraphobia - 2.8%
  • Social phobia - 4.7%
  • Generalised anxiety - 2.7%
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder - 1.9%
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder - 6.4%
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Figure 9: Prevalence of substance use disorders in the previous 12 months

Refer to the following text for a text equivalent of Figure 9: Prevalence of substance use disorders in the previous 12 months

Text version of figure 9

Prevalence of substance use disorders in the previous 12 months:
  • Alcohol harmful use - 2.9%
  • Alcohol dependence - 1.4%
  • Any drug harmful use - 0.9%
  • Any drug dependence - 0.6%
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