LONDON — A new study estimates that about 62 percent of Europeans, or 295 million people, have some type of mental illness
The most alarming fact is that 80% of Europeans go untreated. The shocking part is that the mental illness’ wide-ranging impact goes beyond the individual.
Mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden — measured in the hundreds of billions of euros — as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.
“Mental disorders have become Europe’s largest health challenge of the 21st century,” the study’s authors said.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 600 million people in 30 countries in the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.
The experts surveyed more than 90 different problems, from attention deficit disorders in children to dementia in Alzheimer’s patients. Rates of mental disorders didn’t appear to be rising, compared to a similar study in 2005.
The most common problems included anxiety disorders, insomnia, depression, alcohol and drug dependence and dementia.
The study found that the most disabling conditions are depression, dementia, alcohol dependence and stroke. According to the survey, women are more likely than men to suffer from depression.
The study also noted that while brain illnesses were on the rise, large drug companies are investing less in research on how the brain works.
Experts estimated only onef-fifth of people receive treatment. Hans Ulrich Wittchen, the study’s lead investigator, had the following to say about lack of treatment being sought:
“The immense treatment gap … for mental disorders has 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.”
The study, which was published by the Prussian College of Neuropsychopharmacology in connection with the United Nations Panel on Europeans.