Czechia sees the largest increase in anti-depressant consumption in Europe

Despite the numbers, researchers say there is no correlation between happiness and anti-depressant consumption. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 15.11.2022 13:38:00 (updated on 15.11.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia registered the highest increase in anti-depressant consumption between 2000 and 2020, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data cited by Euronews. The news is, however, not all gloomy, as experts say this doesn't translate into a higher number of Czechs being unhappy with their lives.

The drug use in the Czech Republic went up by 577 percent per the defined daily dose (DDD) consumption of “N06A-Antidepressants” per 1,000 people. This group “comprises preparations used in the treatment of endogenous and exogenous depressions,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Still, the increase in Czechia went from the relatively low level of 10 DDD per 1,000 people in 2000, to 66 in 2020. The OECD dataset compared the situation in 18 European countries.

The overall increase in average antidepressant consumption across the 18-country dataset was 147 percent, from 30.5 DDD per 1,000 people in 2000 to 75.3 DDD in 2020.

How does the rest of Europe fare?

  • Other countries that recorded a dramatic increase were Portugal, going from 32 DDD per 1,000 people in 2000 to 131 DDD in 2020; and the UK, who went from 38 to 108 DDD per 1,000 people during the same time span.
  • The AD pharmaceuticals consumption per 1,000 people varied from 20 DDD in Latvia to 153 DDD in Iceland in 2020.
  • In neighboring Slovakia, the DDD went from 9 to 48 between 2000 and 2020; in Hungary, the numbers during the same time period went from 14 to 30.

In 2020, Germany was the European country that spent the most on anti-depressants, namely USD 812 million; that represented 1.4 percent of total pharmaceutical sales. Czechia's spending stood at USD 66 million, which represented a comparatively higher 1.8 percent of total pharmaceutical sales.

A potential silver lining?

This begs the question: how do the levels of anti-depressant use correlate with either the levels of depression in population, or those of overall happiness?

The jury's out on both issues.

This year's edition of the World Happiness Report ranked Czechia in the world's top twenty happiest countries, more precisely in the 18th spot out of 146 countries. Germany ranked 11th in the same ranking.

Researchers say the numbers could show that depression is getting wider recognition, and that people's attitude towards it are changing too. Other factors are the increased availability of AD drugs, therapies, and evolving clinical guidelines.

WHO notes that treatments for depression depend on the severity and patterns of the episodes, and in some cases include a combination of therapy (such as behavioral activation, cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy) and medication.

As such, a possible conclusion from the current numbers is that, as the stigma surrounding depression and its treatment decreases, so is the willingness of people to seek help for it, including through drug treatment.

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