Better health and ageing for all Australians

The mental health of Australians 2

Mental disorder comorbidity

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Comorbidity refers to the occurrence of more than one disorder at the same time. It may refer to co-occurring mental disorders or co-occurring mental disorders and physical conditions.

  • One in five (20.0%) Australians aged 16-85 years experienced mental disorders in the previous 12 months. One in four of these people experienced more than one class of mental disorder. This is equivalent to over 800,000 Australians (figure 10).

  • Affective and anxiety disorders were the most common comorbidity for both sexes (2.0% in males figure 11 and 3.9% in females figure 12).

  • The next most common comorbidity for both sexes was substance use disorders in combination with anxiety disorders (0.8% in females and 1.3% in males).

  • There were 0.8% of males and 0.6% of females who experienced mental disorders from all three classes in the previous 12 months.

  • Service use was higher for people with two or more classes of mental disorder with 57.2% using services compared with one quarter (27.3%) of those with mental disorders from only one class.

  • Just over a half (54.0%) of people who experienced more than one class of mental disorder experienced severe levels of impairment, compared to 7.5% of people with one mental disorder class.

  • The survey also asked about chronic physical conditions. Those covered were the Australian National Health Priority Areas, namely diabetes, asthma, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer and arthritis.

  • One third (34.0%) of people with 12-month mental disorders had a comorbid physical condition. This is similar to the rate of these physical conditions in the population (32.2%).

  • Mental disorders were more common among people with chronic physical conditions (28.0%) when compared to people who did not have a chronic physical condition (17.6%).
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Figure 10: Mental disorder comorbidity among people who experienced mental disorders in the previous 12 months


Refer to the following text for a text equivalent of Figure 10: Mental disorder comorbidity among people who experienced mental disorders in the previous 12 months

Text version of figure 10

Mental disorder comorbidity among people who experienced mental disorders in the previous 12 months:
  • One disorder class - 74.6%
  • Two disorder classes - 21.9%
  • Three disorder classes - 3.5%
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Figure 11 Prevalence of single and comorbid mental disorders in males in the previous 12 months


Refer to the following text for a text equivalent of Figure 11 Prevalence of single and comorbid mental disorders in males in the previous 12 months

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Prevalence of single and comorbid mental disorders in males in the previous 12 months:
  • Anxiety disorders - 6.7%
  • Affective disorders - 1.9%
  • Substance use disorders - 4.3%
  • Anxiety disorders and affective disorders - 2.0%
  • Anxiety disorders and substance use disorders - 1.3%
  • Affective disorders and substance use disorders - 0.6%
  • Anxiety disorders, affective disorders and substance use disorders - 0.8%
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Figure 12: Prevalence of single and comorbid mental disorders in females in the previous 12 months


Refer to the following text for a text equivalent of Figure 12: Prevalence of single and comorbid mental disorders in females in the previous 12 months

Text version of figure 12

Prevalence of single and comorbid mental disorders in females in the previous 12 months:
  • Anxiety disorders - 12.6%
  • Affective disorders - 2.5%
  • Substance use disorders - 1.7%
  • Anxiety disorders and affective disorders - 3.9%
  • Anxiety disorders and substance use disorders - 0.8%
  • Affective disorders and substance use disorders - 0.2%
  • Anxiety disorders, affective disorders and substance use disorders - 0.6%
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