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Depression and other mental disorders are Europe’s largest health challenge, study concludes

05.09.2011

Paris – Mental disorders have become Europe‘s largest health challenge in the 21st century, according to a study presented today on the 24th Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) in Paris (September 2-7, 2011). The study on the state of Europe‘s mental and neurological health also highlights that the majority of mental disorders remain untreated. Taken together with the large and increasing number of ‚disorders of the brain‘, the true size and burden is significantly higher. The three-year multi-method study by Porfessor Hans-Ulrich Wittchen (CELOS, Dresden) and co-workers covers 30 countries (the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway) and a population of 514 million people. All major mental disorders for children and adolescents (2-17), adults (18-65), and the elderly (65+ years) are included, as well as several neurological disorders. According to the systematic investigation, 164.8 million EU citizens (38.2%) suffer from a mental disorder, with conditions prevalent in all age groups investigated. The most frequent disorders are anxiety disorders (14.0%), insomnia (7.0%), major depression (6.9%), somatoform disorders (6.3%), alcohol and drug dependence (>4%), attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorders (ADHD, 5% in the young), and dementia (1% among those aged 60-65, 30% among those aged 85 and above). The ECNP warns that no improvements were found in the notoriously low treatment rates for mental disorders in comparison with data of a study carried out in 2005 data. Taken together with the many millions patients in the EU who suffer from neurologic disorders such as stroke, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson‘s disease and multiple sclerosis, , disorders of the brain, as measured by disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), are the largest contributor to the EU‘s total morbidity burden, accounting for 26.6% of the total disease burden, covering the full spectrum of all diseases, with depression, dementias, alcohol use and stroke at the top. The study concludes that concerted priority action is needed at all levels, including substantially increased funding for basic and clinical as well as public health research.

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