One in three Hungarians suffer from some level of depression, president of the Hungarian Psychiatric Association Pál Lehóczky has told a medical conference in Budapest, a follow-up to World Mental Health Day. These forms of depression include anxiety disorder but some seven per cent of Hungarians are also affected by severe depression, Lehóczky said.
More demand, less supply
Citing a report from the State Audit Office, he said the number of patients in need of psychiatric help and gaining access to such services had decreased in the last six years despite the deterioration in Hungarians’ state of mental health. The problem, Lehóczky said, is the number of good doctors, specialist nurses and care workers leaving the national health system to work abroad, leaving specialised units in Hungary under-staffed.
While the prevalence of major mental diseases in Hungary is similar to that in Europe, depression, along with alcohol abuse, bipolar disorder and suicide are consistently higher than the EU average, Szent János Hospital head of Department of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Rehabilitation and former president of the Hungarian Psychiatric Association Tamás Kurimay told The Budapest Times. Treatment is delivered mainly through mental healthcare centres distributed across the country and that can cater for part of the cases of mental ill health, but integrating this network of centres into the primary care system remains a challenge, he said.ű
Depression: A Global Crisis
Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) places at over 350 million the number of people affected by depression, describing it as a leading cause of disability worldwide.
In a statement released on the World Federation for Mental Health’s World Mental Health Day on 10 October, which adopted Depression: A Global Crisis as its slogan, the WHO regional office for Europe described the illness as one of the main contributors to mental health problems in the continent, affecting some seven per cent of the population in severe cases and up to one in four for lighter forms of depression and anxiety.
The statement estimates at EUR 170 billion the yearly cost of mood disorders and anxiety in the EU, though also noting that about 50 per cent of major depressions are not treated. Women tend to be more affected than men but studies also show that adolescents and young people also increasingly suffer, WHO regional director for Hungary Zsófia Pusztai said after the release of the statement.
The Hungarian Epidemiological Panel conducted in 2002 showed some 15 per cent of 15- to 29-year-olds showed depressive symptoms, among which 2.8 per cent suffered from serious depression, 12 per cent thought about suicide and three per cent had attempted suicide, Karimay said.