The Global Burden of Mental, Neurological and Substance Use Disorders: An Analysis From the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010

Whiteford, HA
Ferrari, AJ
Degenhardt, L
Feigin, V
Vos, T
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The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010), estimated that a substantial proportion of the world’s disease burden came from mental, neurological and substance use disorders. In this paper, we used GBD 2010 data to investigate time, year, region and age specific trends in burden due to mental, neurological and substance use disorders.


For each disorder, prevalence data were assembled from systematic literature reviews. DisMod-MR, a Bayesian meta-regression tool, was used to model prevalence by country, region, age, sex and year. Prevalence data were combined with disability weights derived from survey data to estimate years lived with disability (YLDs). Years lost to premature mortality (YLLs) were estimated by multiplying deaths occurring as a result of a given disorder by the reference standard life expectancy at the age death occurred. Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) were computed as the sum of YLDs and YLLs.


In 2010, mental, neurological and substance use disorders accounted for 10.4% of global DALYs, 2.3% of global YLLs and, 28.5% of global YLDs, making them the leading cause of YLDs. Mental disorders accounted for the largest proportion of DALYs (56.7%), followed by neurological disorders (28.6%) and substance use disorders (14.7%). DALYs peaked in early adulthood for mental and substance use disorders but were more consistent across age for neurological disorders. Females accounted for more DALYs in all mental and neurological disorders, except for mental disorders occurring in childhood, schizophrenia, substance use disorders, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy where males accounted for more DALYs. Overall DALYs were highest in Eastern Europe/Central Asia and lowest in East Asia/the Pacific.


Mental, neurological and substance use disorders contribute to a significant proportion of disease burden. Health systems can respond by implementing established, cost effective interventions, or by supporting the research necessary to develop better prevention and treatment options.

PLoS ONE 10(2): e0116820. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0116820
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© 2015 Whiteford et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.