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The Most Depressed Countries in Africa

Depression is the second-leading cause of disability globally. The statistics of depression in Africa will shock you.

By Yvonne W – 19.11.2019

Globally, depression is the second-leading cause of disability, with slightly more than 4% of the world’s population diagnosed with it. Depressive disorders are characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration. They include two main categories: major depressive disorder and dysthymia. 

Both major depressive disorder and dysthymia have similar symptoms but dysthymia lasts for longer (chronic) and is more intense. Globally, depressive disorders are more common in females than in males. The following are the countries with the highest rates of depression, according to the global health estimates by the World Health Organisation. Bear in mind that estimates reflect the number of people being diagnosed, not all the people with depressive disorders. Many factors affect the rate of diagnosis, including mental health awareness and the availability of psychiatric facilities. 

1. Djibouti

With 5.1% of its population suffering from depressive disorders, Djibouti is Africa’s most depressed country. The country had 43,909 cases of depressive disorders and 8,090 total years lived with disability (9.1%).

2. Cape Verde and Tunisia

With 4.9% of their populations suffering from depressive disorders, Cape Verde and Tunisia tie for the second most depressed African country. Cape Verde had 24,240 cases of depressive disorders and 4,434 total years lived with disability (9.8%). Tunisia 518,432 cases of depressive disorders and 93,432 total years lived with disability (8.3%).

3. Lesotho

Lesotho comes in third with 4.8% of its population suffering from depressive disorders. The country had 98,988 cases of depressive disorders and 18,087 total years lived with disability (8.1%).

4. Botswana and Ethiopia

Botswana and Ethiopia tie for fourth place with 4.7% of their populations suffering from depressive disorders. Ethiopia had 4,480,113 cases of depressive disorders and 837,683 total years lived with disability (10.1%) while Botswana had 102,065 cases of depressive disorders and 18,183 total years lived with disability (7.2%).

5. Uganda and South Africa

In fifth place are Uganda and South Africa, with 4.6% of their populations suffering from depressive disorders. Uganda had 1,747,769 cases of depressive disorders and 332,539 total years lived with disability (10.5%) while South Africa had 2,402,230 cases of depressive disorders and 420,696 total years lived with disability (7.2%).

6. Algeria, Morocco, and Libya

Algeria, Morocco, and Libya tied for sixth place with 4.5% of their populations suffering from depressive disorders. Algeria had 1,683,914 cases and 302,560 total years lived with disability (8.1%); Morocco had 1,484,441 cases and 265,318 total years lived with disability (7.4%); while Libya had 265,883 cases and 48,069 total years lived with disability (8.0%).

RankCountryPercentage of Population with depression
1Djibouti5.1%
2=Cape Verde4.9%
2=Tunisia4.9%
4Lesotho4.8%
5=Botswana4.7%
5=Ethiopia4.7%
7=Uganda4.6%
7=South Africa4.6%
8=Algeria4.5%
8=Morocco4.5%
8=Libya4.5%

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