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Depressive disorder prevalence in the Belgian population 2001-2020

From 2001 to 2020, the prevalence of depressive disorders increased in the Belgian population. In 2020, it was estimated that 16 percent of the Belgian population had a form of depressive disorder. Depression and anxiety were the most common mental health issues in the country. Although the prevalence of such disorders seemed to decrease significantly in 2018, this could be the result of a methodological break. Indeed, two different scales were used to evaluate depressive disorders in respondents. From 2001 to 2013, the Symptom Checklist (SCL-90r) was used, whereas the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) was used in 2018 and 2020.

Regional prevalence of depression and antidepressant consumption

  From a regional perspective, Wallonia faced the highest prevalence of depressive disorders, whilst the prevalence was at its lowest in Flanders. In 2018, an estimated 7.6 percent of the Belgian population were taking antidepressants. Similarly, the regional use of antidepressants was higher in Wallonia than in the other regions. However, it is important to state that such medication can be prescribed for other afflictions than depression. Ultimately, the use of antidepressants was on the rise in Belgium.

Impact of the coronavirus on mental health

  Social restrictions due to the coronavirus are bound to have negatively impacted mental health. The high prevalence of depressive disorders is to be considered in the context of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Indeed, the 2020 figure has been calculated early in the year, during the confinement of the Belgian population. Furthermore, as any scale evaluating psychological problems, a margin of error is to be considered. Nonetheless, these numbers give useful insight into the landscape of mental health in Belgium.

Share of population with a form of depressive disorder in Belgium from 2001 to 2020

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Release date

May 2020



Survey time period

2001 to 2020

Number of respondents

44,000 respondents

Age group

15 years and older

Special properties

Citizens in Belgium

Method of interview

Online survey

Supplementary notes

* In 2018, the scale to measure depressive disorders was switched from the symptom checklist (SCL-90r) to the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ). Although the PHQ allows the comparison of figures on a European level, this represents a methodological break.

The figures have been taken from several publications and the number of participants varied. Furthermore, the sampling of respondents was made online and not controlled scientifically. However, a logistic regression model based on age, gender, and the yearly population, was used to evaluate the prevalence of depressive disorders in the entire Belgian population.

As any scale evaluating psychological problems, a margin of error is to be considered. The presented share of the population with a form of depressive disorder in Belgium is to be considered as a general picture of the situation across the country.

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Statistics on "Mental health in Belgium"

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