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Prevalence, Correlates, and Treatment of Mental Disorders among Lebanese Older Adults: A National Study

Objectives Data on the mental health of older adults in the Middle East is lacking. Prevalence of mental disorders in Lebanese older adults (age: 60+ years) as well as accounts of their attitude towards seeking professional help for mental disorders were investigated. The results of older adults were compared to a younger age group (18–59 years). Design Cross-sectional nationally representative study, using data from the Lebanese Evaluation of the Burden of Ailments and Needs of the Nation. Setting Community-based epidemiologic survey. Participants Community-dwelling adults (N = 2,857) in Lebanon. Measurements Mental disorders were evaluated using the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Results The lifetime and 12-month prevalences of having “any mental disorder” in older adults (N = 593) were 17.4% and 10.6%, respectively, and were significantly lower than the prevalence in younger adults (25.7% and 18.5%, respectively). Female sex, low household income, social disability, and exposure to war trauma were significant correlates of 12-month mental disorders in older adults. Of those with a 12-month mental disorder, 16.0% sought professional help for their condition in the past year. Conclusions As shown in other epidemiologic studies, the prevalence of mental disorders in Lebanon was lower in older adults as compared to younger adults. Several factors in epidemiologic studies, however, may contribute to the underdiagnosis of mental disorders in older adults. No significant differences in attitude towards mental health services were found between older and younger age groups. The importance of interventions that improve the social relationships of older adults is highlighted.