Prevalence of common mental disorders in Italy: results from the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD)

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2006 Nov;41(11):853-61. doi: 10.1007/s00127-006-0097-4. Epub 2006 Aug 16.


Objective: 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.

Method: 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).

Results: 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.

Conclusion: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Demography
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Registries*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires