Nearly 40 pct of Europeans suffer mental illness

LONDON, (Reuters) – Europeans are plagued by mental  and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38  percent of the population suffering each year from a brain  disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia,  according to a large new study.

With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or  medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and  social burden — measured in the hundreds of billions of euros  — as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal  relationships break down.

“Mental disorders have become Europe’s largest health  challenge of the 21st century,” the study’s authors said.

At the same time, some big drug companies are backing away  from investment in research on how the brain works and affects  behaviour, putting the onus on governments and health charities  to stump up funding for neuroscience.

“The immense treatment gap … for mental disorders has to  be closed,” said Hans Ulrich Wittchen, director of the institute  of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at Germany’s Dresden  University and the lead investigator on the European study.

“Those few receiving treatment do so with considerable  delays of an average of several years and rarely with the  appropriate, state-of-the-art therapies.”

Wittchen led a three-year study covering 30 European  countries — the 27 European Union member states plus  Switzerland, Iceland and Norway — and a population of 514  million people.

A direct comparison of the prevalence of mental illnesses in  other parts of the world was not available because different  studies adopt varying parameters.

Around the Web