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Generalized anxiety disorder prevalence in the Belgian population 2001-2020

From 2001 to 2020, the prevalence of generalized anxiety disorders increased in the Belgian population. In 2020, it was estimated that the prevalence of generalized anxiety in Belgium reached 20 percent. In other words, one out of five Belgians were presumed to suffer from this disorder. Although a high prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders were registered in early 2020, such figures can reflect the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the consequent lockdown of the Belgian population. Nonetheless, the consumption of sleeping pills and tranquilizers increased in Belgium.

Regional prevalence of anxiety

  Generalized anxiety disorder is diagnosed based on an excessive, hindering worry paired with a variety of physical symptoms. In 2018, 75 percent of complaints registered by mental health centers in Flanders revolved around anxiety, stress, or depression. However, compared to Wallonia, the prevalence of anxiety disorders was relatively low in Flanders. From a regional perspective, anxiety disorders in Flanders were below the Belgian average in 2018.

Mental health in Belgium

  Although the sampling of participants was not scientifically controlled, the prevalence was based on answers to standardized tests. As any scale evaluating psychological problems, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7) or the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) are prone to an error margin. Nonetheless, these figures provide insight into the landscape of mental health in Belgium.

Share of population with a generalized anxiety 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 anxiety disorders was switched from the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7) 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, the number of participants therefore 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 mental 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 generalized anxiety 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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