Depression: More common in Germany than in other EU countries

Depression: More common in Germany than in other EU countries

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Germany tops depression

On average, residents of Germany suffer from depression much more often than the EU average. This emerges from a current study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The reasons for the top German values ​​are not only negative.

Germans feel more depressed than the population of other EU countries. This emerges from the new EU health survey (Ehis), which the RKI recently published.

Almost every tenth person is affected by depressive feelings

According to this, depressive feelings are much more common in Germany with 9.2 percent of those surveyed than with the EU average of 6.6 percent. The rate in Germany is even at the top of the 25 EU countries that took part in the study: The Federal Republic has the second highest value after Luxembourg (10 percent).

Depression is perceived more as an illness

The results for Germany could, however, be influenced by the fact that the subject of depression is widely discussed here and the sensitivity could be higher than in other EU countries, the study says. In addition, it could be possible that the surveyed Germans were more willing to name mental symptoms. In Germany, around 25,000 people aged 15 years and over were randomly selected for the survey between November 2014 and July 2015 from registers of the registration offices. Around a quarter of them (27 percent) answered the questionnaire in writing or online.

RKI health study

For the health study, a total of more than 254,000 people in 25 EU countries were contacted and asked, among other things, about depressive symptoms. Looking back over the past two weeks, this included reduced interest, loss of appetite, sleep disorders, psychomotor agitation, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness and concentration problems.

Each country was recommended categories for symptoms, but was able to query them according to its own method. The authors also explain differences in the tendency to depression in Europe with regional peculiarities in terms of education, income and unemployment. There would also be cultural differences - for example in the stigmatization of the disease.

Peak values ​​for mild depression

As a result, Germany is only significantly above the EU average for the symptoms of a slight depressive mood. Younger citizens in particular frequently mentioned symptoms here. In contrast, the seriousness of the disease was close to the EU average of 2.5 percent for all German citizens at 2.9 percent.

Women affected more often

As in a majority of the other EU countries, women in Germany (10.8 percent) were affected more often than men (7.6 percent). This phenomenon is being discussed internationally, the study says. In addition to biological factors, the question is whether there is a greater accumulation of psychosocial stress factors in women.

In Germany, the German Depression Aid Foundation does not assume that the tendency towards depression will generally increase. Rather, the disease is recognized by doctors more often than before. The population has also increased the willingness to be treated.

According to the foundation, 5.3 million Germans between the ages of 18 and 79 develop persistent depressive disorder (8.2 percent) in the course of a year. This number would increase by children, adolescents and people over 79 years. (vb; source: dpa)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Robert Koch Institute (RKI): How is Germany doing in Europe? - Results of the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) 2, Journal of Health Monitoring December 2019,

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