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”. This group “comprises preparations used in the treatment of endogenous and exogenous depressions,” according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
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 per cent increase.
The Czech Republic recorded the highest increase with 577 per cent while it only rose by 38 per cent in France making it the lowest change in these countries between 2000 and 2020, albeit from a relatively high level.
It rose by 304 per cent in Portugal, 256 per cent in the United Kingdom, 208 per cent in Spain and 200 per cent in Germany in the same period.
So-called happiest countries in the world use most antidepressants
Iceland, which was the second happiest country in the world in 2020 according the 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 with 105 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
There is no official comparable data on the share of people reported having chronic depression or consulting a psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist.
However, survey results released by Eurostat provide some insights. In 2019 Eurostat found that 7.2 per cent of EU citizens reported having chronic depression.