Steady rise in consumption of antidepressants across Europe according to OECD

Data published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveals a steady increase in the use of antidepressant medication across a host of European countries. 

The data was collected from the years 2000 to 2020 and shows that Europeans are consuming more antidepressants in terms of daily defined dose (DDD) with a 147% increase in the amount of “N06A-Antidepressants” being consumed in 18 countries. 

Figures showed that Iceland is consuming the most antidepressants with the largest jump in consumption from approximately 71 DDD to 153 DDD, an increase in consumption of 118%. 

Ironically Iceland frequently features prominently in the top ranks of the world’s happiest countries coming in second place in 2021, and fourth place is 2020 according to the World Happiness Report. 

Ireland was ranked at 15 on the World Happiness Report in a separate list in 2021 reportedly due to the survey data arriving too late to be included in the main list and did not feature in the top 20 for 2020. 

In Ireland in 2016 9.42 per 100 medical card holders were reported to be in receipt of antidepressants with the number increasing to 12.3 per 100 in 2020 representing a 2.88% increase. 

A “notable increase” was recorded from 2017 onwards with 2018 to 2019 showing the largest annual increase of 1.06 per 100 medical card holders prescribed antidepressants although a reduced annual growth of 1.03 per 100 was recorded for 2020. 

The lowest reliance on antidepressants was recorded in Estonia which had a DDD of just 6 in 2000 compared with 37 in 2020, although this represents a 478% increase – the second largest recorded. 

The rate of daily defined dose consumption in Portugal rose by 304% while the UK saw a rise of 256%. Spain’s increase was 208% while increases in Germany for the same period were recorded at 200%. 

The Czech Republic recorded the highest percentage increase within the 20 year period with rises of some 577% while France saw the lowest increase of 38% with increases from an already high 40 DDD to 57 DDD. 

Happiest country in the world, Finland, saw a DDD increase of 18.84% from 69 to 82. 

Slovakia saw a 460% increase, Greece 248%, Sweden 135%, Denmark 129%, Hungary 125%, Belgium 116%, Luxembourg 53%, Netherlands 51%, and Norway experienced a 44% increase. 


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