Incidence of Mental Illness

In 1996, a large-scale nationwide mental health and substance abuse epidemiological study was conducted by researchers from the University of Antioquia and the University CES of Medellin. Funded by the Ministry of Health and working with a national team of more than 100 interviewers, the researchers interviewed a random sample of 15,046 individuals older than 12 years of age across the country, using the Clinical Diagnostic Inventory II questionnaire, which is based on the DSM-IV classification. This is the most comprehensive mental health study ever conducted in Colombia. The lifetime prevalence of diagnosable disorders was as follows: nicotine dependency, 28%; major depression, 19.3%; alcohol abuse and dependency (combined), 16.6%; posttraumatic stress disorder, 4.5%; somatization, 4.3%; generalized anxiety, 3.8%; and schizophrenia, 1.4%. The lifetime use of marijuana was 7.8% and of cocaine 2.5% (Torres and Montoya 1997). Suicide is also a public health problem; in 1995, a total of 58,830 suicides were reported in Columbia (Pan American Health Organization 1999).

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