The burden of mental disorders in Ethiopia, from 1990 to 2019

Published October 20, 2023, in Ethiopian Journal of Health Development (opens in a new window)



Currently, non-communicable diseases are prevailing in Ethiopia, with mental disorders being a significant contributor. However, there is a lack of substantial evidence regarding the impact and distribution of these illnesses across the country.


This study aims to evaluate the occurrence, prevalence, and disability-adjusted life years associated with mental disorders in all regional states and chartered cities of Ethiopia between 1990 and 2019.


In this study, the 2019 Global Burden of Diseases data, tools, processing, and estimation techniques were used to estimate incidence, prevalence, and disability-adjusted life years due to mental disorders in all regional states and chartered cities in Ethiopia from 1990-2019. The Bayesian meta-regression disease modeling (DisMR.2) and causes of death ensemble modeling (CODEm) methods were used to calculate fatal and non-fatal health metrics values over time. The spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression was employed to transfer strength between points and over time for each relevant metric. 

All available data sources including population census, household surveys, demographic surveillance, disease registry, health service use, disease notifications, and other data, were used for this analysis. Each metric was estimated per 100,000 populations with a 95% uncertainty interval.


The most common forms of mental disorders in Ethiopia were depressive disorders [4,650 cases (4,166-5,200)], anxiety disorders [3,466 cases (2,967-4,084)], bipolar disorders [614 cases (520-720)], and schizophrenia [213 cases (182-247)]. Mental disorders accounted for about 4.0% (4.5% female vs. 3.5% male) of the total burden of diseases from all causes in Ethiopia, with 1,393 disability-adjusted life years (1,019-1,845). Addis Ababa city administration had the highest disability-adjusted life years due to mental disorders, whereas the Somali region had the lowest.


This study has indicated that depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia were the most common mental disorders in Ethiopia from 1990 to 2019, indicating that there were unparalleled prevention and treatment efforts to halt the burdens due to these disorders. Moreover, there were variations in the distribution of the burden of mental disorders at the sub-national level. Therefore, mental health interventions should include addressing common disorders and inter-regional disparities. 

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Zergaw A, Tadesse S, Taju A, et al. The Burden of Mental Disorders in Ethiopia, from 1990 to 2019: A Systematic Analysis of the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2019. Ethiopian Journal of Health Development. 20 October 2023. eISSN: 1021-6790.