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Prevalence of common mental disorders in Italy

Results from the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD)

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To present 1-month, 12-month and lifetime prevalence estimates of mood, anxiety and alcohol disorders in Italy; and the socio-demographic correlates and comorbidity patterns of these estimated disorders.


A representative random sample of non-institutionalised citizens of Italy aged 18 or older (N = 4,712) was interviewed between January 2001 and July 2003, with a weighted response rate of 71.3%. DSM-IV disorders were assessed by lay interviewers using Version 3.0 of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).


A total of 11% of respondents reported a lifetime history of any mood disorder, 10.3% any anxiety disorder and 1.3% any alcohol disorder. About 5% reported having an anxiety disorder in the past 12 months compared to 3.3% for any mood disorder and 0.2% for any alcohol disorder. Major depression and specific phobia were the most common mental disorders. Women were twice as likely as men to report a mood disorder and four times as likely as men to report an anxiety disorder, while men were twice as likely as women to report an alcohol disorder. High comorbidity of mood and anxiety disorders was observed. Prevalence estimates were generally lower than in parallel surveys carried out in other Western European countries.


A high proportion of adults in Italy have a history of mood, anxiety or alcohol disorders. The lower than expected prevalence estimate of alcohol use disorder may be due to under-reporting or to low social harm from alcohol consumption.

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This project was funded by the European Commission (Contract QLG5-1999-01042), the Piedmont Region (Italy), Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain (FIS 00/0028), Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, Spain (SAF 2000-158-CE), Departament de Sanitat, Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain, and other local agencies and by an unrestricted educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline. The ESEMED project is carried out in conjunction with the World Health Organization World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative. We thank the WMH staff for assistance with instrumentation, fieldwork and data analysis. These activities were supported by the United States National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH070884), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pfizer Foundation, the US Public Health Service (R13-MH066849, R01-MH069864 and R01-DA016558), the Fogarty International Center (FIRCA R01-TW006481), the Pan American Health Organization, Eli Lilly and Company, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, and Bristol-Myers Squibb. A complete list of WMH publications can be found at

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Correspondence to Giovanni de Girolamo.

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de Girolamo, G., Polidori, G., Morosini, P. et al. Prevalence of common mental disorders in Italy. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol 41, 853–861 (2006).

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