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Phychiatric problems of the blind: Anxiety, Somatoform, and Depressive Disorders. Menelik II Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Zerihun Tadesse
Ameha Bogale
Benalfew Tesfaye
Nigussie Deyassa
Teshome Shiberie
Alem Atalay
Derege Kebede


Objective: To determine the magnitude of anxiety, somatoform, and depressive disorders among blind people.

Methods: All blind patients (according to WHO definition) who attended the Out Patient Clinics of the Ophthalmology Department of Menelik II hospital from October 2000- February 2001 were interviewed using a fully structured instrument-Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) core version 2.1.

Results: 107 patients with visual loss were included in the study. 6 (5.6%) had acute onset Vs. 101 (94.4%) gradual. 48 (44.9%) had been blind for more than 1 year. The commonest cause of blindness was found to be cataract 59 (55.1%); followed by glaucoma 20 (18.7%) and retinal detachment 12 (11.2%). Only 5 (4.7%) patients were found to have psychiatric morbidity. Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depressive Disorder and Somatoform Disorder each constituted one case. Two patients were found to have dysthymia and one patient social phobia.

Conclusion: The reported prevalence of psychiatric problems among the blind in this study is way below those of other studies conducted in medical settings as well as general population. Further studies to determine magnitude of psychiatric problems among blind people, by using instruments with Amharic version of known validity are recommended and the need to establish validity of the Amharic version of CIDI is stressed.

[J Ethiopia Med Pract. 2002;4(1):21– 27]

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eISSN: 1560-1560