To document the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in Quebec's older adult population.
Data came from the Enquête sur la santé des aînés study conducted in 2005–2006 using a representative sample ( n = 2798) of community-dwelling older adults.
Our results indicate that 12.7% of the respondents met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria for depression, mania, anxiety disorders, or benzodiazepine dependency. The 12-month prevalence rate of major depression was 1.1% and the prevalence of minor depression 5.7%. A total of 5.6% of the respondents reported an anxiety disorder. The most prevalent anxiety disorders were specific phobia (2.0%), obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) (1.5%), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (1.2%). Agoraphobia without panic disorder and panic disorder were reported by 0.3% and 0.6% of the respondents, respectively. The prevalence rate of benzodiazepine dependency was 2.3%. The 12-month comorbidity prevalence rate between any psychiatric disorders was 2.2%. Among those with depressive disorder, the most frequent comorbidity was observed between minor depression and specific phobia (4.3%), GAD (4.3%), OCD (3.7%), and mania (1.3%). Further, only 39% of those having at least one active DSM-IV diagnosis reported having used health services for their psychological distress symptoms during the previous 12 months. Among those who consulted health services, 85% visited a general practitioner.
Our results indicate that a large proportion of the elderly population in Quebec presents mental health needs. Longitudinal research focusing on the individual and social consequences of mental health problems reported by older adults is needed to avoid misinterpretation of this finding.