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, 15 (2), 114-9

Prevalence of Psychological Distress, Anxiety and Depression in Rural Communities in Australia

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Prevalence of Psychological Distress, Anxiety and Depression in Rural Communities in Australia

Annamari Kilkkinen et al. Aust J Rural Health.

Abstract

Objective: To describe the prevalence of psychological distress, depression and anxiety in three Australian rural settings and to identify the levels of risk by gender and age.

Design and setting: Three cross-sectional surveys in the Greater Green Triangle area covering the south-east of South Australia (Limestone Coast), and south-west (Corangamite Shire) and north-west (Wimmera) of Victoria.

Participants: A total of 1563 people, aged 25-74 years, randomly selected from the electoral roll.

Main outcome measures: Psychological distress assessed by the Kessler 10, and anxiety and depression assessed by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.

Results: The prevalence of psychological distress was 31% for both men and women with two-thirds reporting moderate and one-third high levels of psychological distress. The prevalence of depression and anxiety was approximately 10%. The highest rate of psychological distress, anxiety and depression occurred in the 45-54 years age group. There were no consistent gender or area differences in the prevalence of psychological distress, depression or anxiety.

Conclusions: A third of the rural population reported psychological distress, with the highest prevalence observed in middle-aged men and women. Thus, health professionals should attend not only to physical health, but also to mental health status in this age group. It is also important to target prevention strategies at the 20% who reported moderate levels of psychological distress in order to prevent the development of more serious conditions.

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