Notes on the data: Chronic diseases and conditions

Estimated male, female or persons with mood (affective) disorders, 2017-18


Policy context:  In 2017-18, an estimated 4.8 million Australians (20.1%) reported having a mental and behavioural condition; an increase from 17.5% in 2014-15 [1]. The most common mental illnesses are anxiety related (13.1%) and mood affective disorders (10.8%) [1]. The Productivity Commission reported in 2019 that the treatment of mental illness has been tacked on to a health system that has been largely designed around the characteristics of physical illness. They commented on a number of issues of concern arising from this approach, one of which was that, in contrast to many physical health conditions, mental illness tends to first emerge in younger people (75% of those who develop mental illness, first experience mental ill-health before the age of 25 years) raising the importance of identifying risk factors and treating illness early where possible [2]. They estimated that the cost to the Australian economy of mental ill-health and suicide is, conservatively, in the order of $43 to $51 billion per year. Additional to this is an approximately $130 billion cost associated with diminished health and reduced life expectancy for those living with mental ill-health [2].

Women (12.0%) are more likely than men (9.5%) to have mood (affective) disorders [1]. The highest (self-reported) prevalence was recorded for those aged 55 to 64 years, at 18.2% for females and 13.6% for males [3].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Mental and behavioural conditions National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18 - Australia. Canberra: ABS; 2018. Available from:; last accessed 15 October 2019
  2. Productivity Commission, Mental Health, Draft Report. Available from:; last accessed 1 November 2019.
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Table 3: Long-term health conditions - Australia. National Health Survey: First Results, 2017–18 — Australia. Canberra: ABS; 2018. Available from:; last accessed 13 December 2019


Small area estimates:

Data by Population Health Area, Local Government Area and Primary Health Network are available for the 2014-15 National Health Survey in the data archive.

Differences from data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS):

Data by quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage and Remoteness will differ to the extent that data extracted from Survey TableBuilder have been randomised, whereas those published by the ABS are not. In addition, rates published by the ABS for modelled estimates are generally crude rates; rates published by PHIDU are age-standardised.

Indicator detail

Mood (affective) disorders were identified through self-reported information that respondents reported ever being told by a doctor or nurse that they had one or more mood (affective) disorders such depression/ feeling depressed and that it was current and long-term at the time of the interview. A current and long-term condition is defined as a medical condition that has lasted or expected to last six months or more and was current at the time of the interview. Mood disorders include depression and other mood (affective) disorders.

Note for all mental and behavioural problems data: In the 2014-15 National Health Survey, a module specifically dedicated to mental and behavioural conditions was included to collect information on cognitive, organic and behavioural conditions. Previously mental and behavioural conditions were collected in a module that included a wide range of long-term health conditions. The number of persons who reported having a mental and behavioural condition in 2014–15 has increased since the 2011–12 NHS, potentially due to the greater prominence of mental and behavioural conditions in the new module. Data on mental and behavioural conditions from 2014–15 are therefore not comparable with data in previous National Health Surveys. For more information refer to the explanatory notes in the ABS National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001).


Geography: Data available by Quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Estimated number of male, female or persons with current, long-term mood (affective) disorders


Denominator:  Male, female or total population


Detail of analysis:  Indirectly age-standardised rate per 100 population; and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on direct estimates from the 2017–18 National Health Survey, ABS Survey TableBuilder.


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