Mental disorders in Spanish university students: Prevalence, age-of-onset, severe role impairment and mental health treatment.

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Mental disorders in Spanish university students: Prevalence, age-of-onset, severe role impairment and mental health treatment.

J Affect Disord. 2020 Aug 01;273:604-613

Authors: Ballester L, Alayo I, Vilagut G, Almenara J, Cebrià AI, Echeburúa E, Gabilondo A, Gili M, Lagares C, Piqueras JA, Roca M, Soto-Sanz V, Blasco MJ, Castellví P, Mortier P, Bruffaerts R, Auerbach RP, Nock MK, Kessler RC, Jordi A, UNIVERSAL study group

BACKGROUND: The university period carries risk for onset of common mental disorders. Epidemiological knowledge on mental disorders among Spanish university students is limited.
AIMS: To estimate lifetime and 12-month prevalence, persistence and age-of-onset of mental disorders among Spanish first-year university students, as well as associated role impairment and mental health treatment use.
METHODS: First-year university students (N=2,118; 55.4% female; mean age=18.8 years) from five Spanish universities completed a web-based survey, screening possible DSM-IV mental disorders (major depressive episode(MDE), mania/hypomania, generalized anxiety disorder(GAD), panic disorder(PD), alcohol abuse/dependence(AUD), drug abuse/dependence(DUD), and adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD)). Role impairment and treatment associated with mental disorders were assessed.
RESULTS: Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of any possible mental disorder was 41.3%(SE=1.08) and 35.7%(SE=1.05), respectively. Persistence (i.e., ratio of 12-month to lifetime prevalence) was 86.4%(SE=1.58). Median age-of-onset was 14 for adult ADHD, 15 for mood disorders and AUD, and 16 for anxiety disorders and DUD. One third (29.2%) of 12-month disorders were associated with role impairment. Twelve-month PD (OR=4.0;95%CI=1.9-8.5) had the highest odds for role impairment. Only 12.6% of students with 12-month disorder received any mental health treatment. Twelve-month treatment was the highest among those students with 12-month GAD (OR=7.4;95%CI=3.7-14.8).
LIMITATIONS: The assessment of mental disorders was based on self-reports. Cross-sectional nature of the data prevents causal associations.
CONCLUSION: One third of Spanish university students report a common mental disorder in the past year, and one third of those report severe role impairment. Only one out of eight students with 12-month mental disorders receives mental health treatment.

PMID: 32560960 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]


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