Objectives: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most disabling mental illnesses and it has a significant impact on society. This review aims to provide updated scientific evidence about the epidemiology of MDD.
Methods: A systematic literature review of the PubMed and MEDLINE databases was performed to identify articles on the prevalence of MDD and its correlates. The search was restricted to manuscripts published between January 2001 and December 2018.
Results: Sixty-three articles were included in the review. The lifetime prevalence of MDD ranged from 2 to 21%, with the highest rates found in some European countries and the lowest in some Asian countries. The main sociodemographic correlates were separated/divorced marital status and female gender. Child abuse, intimate partner violence, and comorbidity with other physical and mental disorders also were consistently associated with MDD across the reviewed studies.
Conclusions: MDD is a highly prevalent condition worldwide. There are remarkable interregional differences in the disorder's prevalence, as well as in certain sociodemographic correlates. MDD is also highly comorbid with physical and mental health problems.