Use of antidepressants increased by nearly two and a half times between 2000 and 2020 across 18 European countries, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data shows. OECD data also reveals a dramatic increase in anxiety and depression during the COVID‑19 pandemic.
The datasets used by the OECD use the term ‘defined daily dose’ or DDD to quantify antidepressant consumption. In 2000, the average antidepressant consumption across 18 European countries was 30.5 DDD per 1,000 people. In 2020, that rose to 75.3 DDD, an increase of nearly 150 percent (or two-and-a-half times).
In 2020, the average use across 24 countries was 68 DDD. The largest three countries by population — Turkey (49 DDD), France (55 DDD) and Germany (62 DDD) — all recorded below average use.
The biggest increase in the 20-year period was in the Czech Republic, where usage rose by 577 percent. It was lowest in France (38 percent), though from a higher baseline. The countries spending the most on antidepressants in 2020 were Germany (€783 million), Spain (€626 million) and Italy €440 million).
Surveys released by the OECD suggest that mental health has deteriorated significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The prevalence of anxiety in early 2020 was double or more than double that observed in previous years in some European states.