Europeans largest consumers of antidepressant drugs amid mental health crisis
Global consumption of antidepressant drugs (AD) has increased dramatically in the last two decades, with Europeans the largest consumers.
Use of antidepressants increased by nearly two and a half times from 2000 to 2020 in 18 European countries, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data.
OECD data also shows a dramatic increase in anxiety and depression during the COVID‑19 pandemic.
OECD datasets demonstrates the defined daily dose (DDD) consumption of “N06A-Antidepressants”.
The average antidepressant consumption across 18 European countries was 30.5 DDD per 1,000 people per day in 2000 rising to 75.3 DDD in 2020, a 147 percent increase.
The Czech Republic recorded the highest increase with 577 per cent while it only rose by 38 per cent in France.
It rose by 304 percent in Portugal, 256 percent in the United Kingdom, 208 percent in Spain and 200 per cent in Germany in the same period.
Iceland, which was the second happiest country in the world in 2020 according the so-called World Happiness Report, has the highest antidepressant consumption in Europe.
Sweden, which ranked sixth in the Happiness Report, has the fourth highest use of antidepressants with105 DDD.
Finnish people, who were the happiest nation according to the report, used 82 DDD antidepressants which placed Finland seventh out of 24 countries.
The prevalence of chronic depression in Europe
In 2019 Eurostat found that 7.2 percent of EU citizens reported having chronic depression.
In 2019, among EU countries Portugal (12.2 percent) had the highest share of the population reporting chronic depression, followed by Sweden (11.7 percent), Germany and Croatia (both 11.6 percent).
The impact of COVID on mental health
Recent surveys released by the OECD found that mental health has deteriorated significantly since the start of the COVID‑19 pandemic.
From March 2020 onwards, the prevalence of anxiety and depression increased in 15 selected OECD countries, including several European ones.
The prevalence of anxiety in early 2020 was double or more than double that observed in previous years in Belgium, France, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, the UK and the US.