Around a third of the participants in a representative online survey in Germany described themselves as mentally ill. The adult respondents said they suffered from depression particularly frequently (21 percent), according to data from the opinion research institute Ipsos, which was collected on behalf of the insurance company AXA.
Overall, around 32 percent of those surveyed said they suffered from depression, an anxiety disorder, eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or other mental illness, AXA said on Tuesday in Cologne. In particular, young women between the ages of 18 and 34 often stated that they were currently mentally ill (41 percent). A total of 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 74 were surveyed in Germany last fall.
Experts are not surprised
For experts, such numbers fit into the picture. "Although online surveys do not methodologically allow a reliable measurement of the frequency of mental illnesses, the numbers in themselves are not very surprising," said Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, President of the German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychosomatics and Neurology (DGPPN) of the Deutsche Presse- Agency. According to a representative study from 2014, around 28 percent of the population in Germany were mentally ill within a year. In young women it was even 43 percent.
For the AXA Mental Health Report 2023, participants were also asked which factors negatively impact their emotional well-being. These include rising prices and the cost of living (89 percent), war (81 percent), the economy (76 percent) and climate change (67 percent). In the age group of 18 to 24 year olds, their own body image and social expectations (75 percent each) were also named as important factors influencing their emotional state. Almost two-thirds of young adults said that social media and constant availability on the Internet had a negative impact on their emotional state.
Younger people are affected more often
Overall, older people reported a mental illness less frequently: In the age group between 65 and 74, 17 percent stated that they were currently mentally ill. "The greatest burden of mental disorders affects the young and working population," said the psychiatrist and DGPPN President Meyer-Lindenberg.
According to Axa, 16 percent of affected respondents said they had made their own diagnosis through research or using the internet. Meyer-Lindenberg said: "It doesn't surprise me at all. That suits the patients who come to me. Many of them have already researched it on the Internet."
According to Meyer-Lindenberg, the data shows how important it is to actually measure the mental health of the population. For this purpose, a mental health surveillance study was started at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin a few years ago, the continuation of which is unfortunately unclear. "We as a professional society are of the opinion that something like this must be continued," said the DGPPN President. This is the only way to answer how the well-being of the population changes in the event of unforeseen events such as the corona pandemic or Russia's attack on Ukraine.
DGPPN on frequency of mental illness