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Mental illness epidemic in Europe

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It is not hyperbole to say that Europe is plagued by mental health disorders or even brain disease. With almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population of 30 European countries suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, the continent is in crisis.

“Mental disorders have become Europe’s largest health challenge of the 21st century,” the study’s authors wrote. Only a third of these cases are receiving treatment or medication. The consequences are economic and social as sufferers become too unwell to work and their personal relationships dissolve.

While diagnoses are on the increase, research into new and better treatments are decreasing by pharmaceutical companies. This is putting the burden on governments and private sources to fund research into more effective treatments.

The conclusions are part of a three year research study covering the countries of the EU plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, a total population of 514 billion people. It analyzed about 100 different types of illnesses including all major brain disorders from anxiety to depression. It included addiction and schizophrenia as well as major neurological disorders like epilepsy, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. Brain disease has become the single largest contributor to poor health in the EU.

The four most disabling conditions were identified as depression, dementias, alcohol dependence and stroke. The cost for treating these diseases is estimated to be more than $555 billion per year in countries which largely utilize state funded health care.

Source: European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ENCP), Reuters

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