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Keywords:

  • prevalence;
  • mental disorders;
  • ESEMeD;
  • six European countries

Objective:  To describe the 12-month and lifetime prevalence rates of mood, anxiety and alcohol disorders in six European countries.

Method:  A representative random sample of non-institutionalized inhabitants from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain aged 18 or older (n = 21425) were interviewed between January 2001 and August 2003. DSM-IV disorders were assessed by lay interviewers using a revised version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI).

Results:  Fourteen per cent reported a lifetime history of any mood disorder, 13.6% any anxiety disorder and 5.2% a lifetime history of any alcohol disorder. More than 6% reported any anxiety disorder, 4.2% any mood disorder, and 1.0% any alcohol disorder in the last year. Major depression and specific phobia were the most common single mental disorders. Women were twice as likely to suffer 12-month mood and anxiety disorders as men, while men were more likely to suffer alcohol abuse disorders.

Conclusion:  ESEMeD is the first study to highlight the magnitude of mental disorders in the six European countries studied. Mental disorders were frequent, more common in female, unemployed, disabled persons, or persons who were never married or previously married. Younger persons were also more likely to have mental disorders, indicating an early age of onset for mood, anxiety and alcohol disorders.