Mental disorders affect more than a third of Europeans

Mental disorders affect more than 160 million Europeans — 38% of the population — each year, says a report1 issued by the European Brain Council and the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.  The researchers found that the most common disorders are anxiety, insomnia and depression, which account for 14%, 7% and 6.9% of the total, respectively.  The new report is an update on a 2005 paper2 that estimated that 27% of the EU population was affected by mental disorders each year. The higher figure resulted from the addition of 14 previously excluded disorders, many of which affect children and the elderly. But the frequency of mental disorders has probably not gone up substantially, Wittchen, the lead researcher, says. “There’s no evidence for changing rates.”

Read the entire article here.



Interesting statistic, but unless the researchers are going to compare apples to apples, it’s meaningless. Looks like we will have to wait until next month for all of the findings, and I hope the researchers highlight the fact that there are additional mental illnesses covered in this study than in the 2005 data.

This is something I hated when I was dealing with statistics when I was still working. Sensationalism created by futzing with what defines the criteria for valid data.

The most recent stat I could find is 20% and that came from SAMHSA. (A copy of the report is accessible at: I’m not sure if I buy that stat, either. If I had time I would go through the Euro and US reports and see exactly what each defined as a mental illness. I have a feeling there’s a huge discrepancy between just the number of ‘illnesses’ the Europeans are using vs the Americans, don’t you?

I feel like overdiagnosis is the issue. They say that depression and anxiety are the #1 most commonly diagnosed mental illness. But aren’t depression and anxiety considered to be normal human responses in some situations? We, as humans, are primally designed to have an anxiety response to keep us from putting our life in unnecessary peril. And we are designed to be tribal, so we grieve.

Say Person X is having a difficult time in their life. They have are going through a divorce and their child is going through puberty. Person X’s job underpays and now she is left homeless until she can scrape some savings together. Because she is having a difficult time with her personal life, it is bleeding over into her work life due to having to handle some affairs while she is on the job. (Ex: A child is yet again truant from school, so the school calls to inform her that she is receiving a citation to go before the magistrate). Now, her boss and her co-workers are giving her a hard time because her job performance is slipping.

That is an understandably tough situation. Firstly, she is grieving for the loss of a partner. Secondly, she is frustrated by the behavior of her teen. And her support system at work is crumbling. All the while she has deep concerns about her living situation, financial situation, and now legal situation.

Understandably, she goes to a therapist. This therapist refers her to a psychiatrist. They both agree, and diagnose her with Major Depressive Disorder.

WTF? Not even the most level headed person would be able to handle that kind of havoc. And that is a prime example of overdiagnosis.

To paraphrase Dr. House: If you take a person to a specialist, the specialist is going to determine that person has something within their specialty. Neurologist = migranes. Orthopedic surgeon = neck sprain. And psychiatrist = Anixety. PCP = hypochondriac.

I completely agree. Overdiagnosis is not good for anyone – not for the people who are wrongfully being medicated, and not for those of us who truly have a mental illness. It minimizes and to a degree discounts what we have to go through. [As a semi-related aside: I wanted to scream when the whole Hollywood BP circus was going on. It was a total mockery. At least CZJ did get help. I applaud her. As for the others that tried to jump on her bandwagon…puh-leeze.]

To your paraphrase of Dr House (love that show!), it is so true. It’s kind of the luck of the draw when anyone who suspects they have a mental illness decides to seek help. Did they go to the right specialist? If not, did the specialist they chose to see have enough of a brain in their head to send them on to the right practitioner? And, whenever you do (finally) get to the right doc, is that doc someone who is competent and someone you have a rapport with? It’s a miracle any of us ever get the right help 🙂

Took me nearly 10 years to be diagnosed correctly. I’m still really peeved at the doctor and therapist that were treating me at the time of my “original diagnosis”. But, I guess it took enough BP’s like me for psychiatrists to be like, “Mania with anti-depressants!? Well. That’s not a depressed person getting better! That’s a bipolar person getting worse!”

I hate when the news takes a stab at it. They peeve me off pretty bad too.


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