Prevalence of depressive disorder in the adult population of Latin America: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Elsevier, Lancet Regional Health - Americas, Volume 26, October 2023
Errazuriz A., Avello-Vega D., Ramirez-Mahaluf J.P., Torres R., Crossley N.A., Undurraga E.A. et al.

Background: Depressive disorder is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide; however its prevalence and association with inequality and crime is poorly characterised in Latin America. This study aimed to: i. systematically review population-based studies of prevalence of ICD/DSM depressive disorder in Latin America, ii. report pooled regional, country, and sex-specific prevalence estimates, and iii. test its association with four country-level development indicators: human development (HDI), income (Gini) and gender inequality (GII), and intentional homicide rate (IHR). Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of population-based studies reporting primary data on the prevalence of ICD/DSM depressive disorder in Latin America from 1990 to 2023, irrespective of language. We searched PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library, SciELO (regional database), LILAC (regional database), and available grey literature. Study quality was assessed using JBI's critical appraisal tools. We generated pooled estimates using random-effects meta-analysis; heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 statistic. Meta-regression analyses were used to test associations of depression prevalence with indicators of inequality and human development. The study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42019143054). Findings: Using data from 40 studies in Latin America, lifetime, 12-month, and current prevalence of ICD/DSM depressive disorder were calculated at 12.58% (95% CI 11.00%–14.16%); 5.30% (4.55–6.06%), and 3.12% (2.22–4.03), respectively. Heterogeneity was high across lifetime, 12-month, and current prevalence, sex, and countries. 12-month and current prevalence was associated with higher Gini and GII, 12-month prevalence with lower HDI, and current prevalence with higher IHR. Interpretation: We found a high prevalence of ICD/DSM depressive disorders in Latin America, and a statistically significant association with inequality and development indicators. The high heterogeneity found across prevalence periods and the major gaps in country representation underscore the need to escalate efforts to improve mental health access and research capabilities in Latin America. Systematic, comparable prevalence estimates would inform more effective decision-making in the region. Funding: Pfizer Independent Medical Education Grant.