Have mental disorders developed over time

Mental illness in Europe: lifetime risk more than 50 percent


Meta-analysis of the Technical University of Dresden: 27 studies with more than 150,000 participants examined

Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcohol or drug addiction, social phobia, panic disorder, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, somatoform disorders or dementia - mental disorders of this kind are not uncommon among Europeans. According to a meta-analysis published in European Neuropsychopharmacology (2005: 15: 357–76), every fourth European (27 percent) develops one of the mentioned mental disorders at least once a year. The lifetime risk is even more than 50 percent. The most common are anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and somatoform disorders. Prof. Dr. med. Hans-Ulrich Wittchen and Dr. Frank Jacobi from the Technical University of Dresden summarized the results of 27 studies with more than 150,000 participants in the meta-analysis.
The prevalence of 27 percent makes mental disorders a lifestyle disease such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Like these, the disturbances do not occur in isolation. Many people often suffer from different disorders at different stages of life. A "pure depression" or a "pure panic disorder" occurs relatively rarely, explains Wittchen. The most common patterns are early anxiety disorders, which are often followed by somatoform, addiction and depressive illnesses in the further course.
Higher risk for women
The majority of mental disorders manifest themselves in the important period for successful health development and socialization - namely in childhood and adolescence. During this time, the course is often set for a lifelong path of suffering, which then also adversely affects other areas of life (e.g. professional career, partnership and family life). According to the findings of the scientists, women have a higher risk of developing mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and somatoform disorders than men. The only exceptions are substance addiction, psychoses and bipolar disorders. Women also have an increased risk of developing complex comorbid disorder patterns. Most women fall ill during their childbearing years, which in turn has a negative impact on the development of their children. Mental disorders are rarely recognized early and treated appropriately. 26 percent of those affected received unspecific and even less adequate treatment. Exceptions are psychoses, severe depression and complex comorbid patterns. If left untreated, many mental disorders are often chronic with increasing complications. A green paper by the EU Commission recently drew attention to the consequences, which also referred to the investigation from Dresden. In the European Union, 58,000 people would kill themselves every year. That is more deaths than as a result of traffic accidents, murders and AIDS.
According to EU estimates, mental illnesses cause costs amounting to three to four percent of the gross national product, mainly through productivity losses. Mental illnesses are also the most common cause of early retirement. Wittchen estimated the costs at almost 300 billion euros per year, of which 132 billion euros are indirect costs (lost days due to illness, early retirement, premature mortality and reduced labor productivity).
In contrast, only 110 billion euros would be spent on direct costs (hospitalization and home visits by patients). The costs for drug therapy - as the most frequently used type of treatment - would, on the other hand, only amount to four percent of the total expenditure. The cost of psychotherapeutic services would be well below one percent. Rüdiger Meyer
Mental illness in Europe: lifetime risk more than 50 percent

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