Mental disorders common across Europe

A study has revealed that more than a third of EU citizens suffer from a mental disorder.

The research found that 38.2% of people had some kind of mental disorder, with the most common forms being anxiety, insomnia and depression. Among those surveyed, 14% suffered from anxiety, 7% from insomnia, and 6.9% from major depression.

Men and women were as likely to suffer from a disorder but tended to experience different mental health problems, the Press Association reports.

While men are more likely to be alcohol dependent, women were two-and-a-half times more likely than men to suffer depression, particularly during child-bearing years.

The study, published by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, found that depression among women had doubled since the 70s and was most likely to occur between the ages of 16 and 42. Researchers linked the rise to increased pressures on women as they juggle a career and family life.

The research was led by Hans Ulrich Wittchen, director of the institute of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at Dresden University in Germany, and was conducted across 27 EU countries plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, covering 514 million people.

The study revealed that mental disorders are setting in at an earlier age. Mental disorders used to start occurring in people in their 20s but are now being experienced by people in their teens.

Mr Wittchen said that around 90% of those suffering from an anxiety disorder were starting to experience the problem before the age of 18.

The study found that many sufferers were not receiving treatment for their disorders, with only 30 – 52% in contact with a health professional, and even fewer, 8 – 16% in contact with a specialist.

Mr Wittchen said the “immense” treatment gap needed to be closed.

“Those few receiving treatment do so with considerable delays of an average of several years and rarely with the appropriate, state-of-the-art therapies,” he said.