The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the psychological well-being of citizens all around the world, disrupting nearly every aspect of an individual’s daily life. According to a survey carried out in 2021, close to half of Spaniards expressed concerns that the situation could have a negative long-term impact on their mental health, a figure slightly above the global average, and comparable to those of France and South Korea. In 2020, around 22 percent of the Spanish population suffered from at least one mental health condition, with 14 percent dealing with anxiety, 10 percent with depression, and another six percent coping with other types of mental health conditions.
Depression and anxiety
In Spain, around 3.2 percent of men and 7.2 percent of women were diagnosed with depression in 2020, with older groups being the most affected category in terms of age. When it comes to anxiety, approximately 3.5 percent of men and 8.1 percent of women suffered from the condition, reaching a share of over 4.4 percent and 11.3 percent for senior categories, respectively. The real prevalence of these disorders, however, is expected to be higher, as many people who deal with depression or anxiety have not yet been diagnosed by a doctor. Overall, the prevalence of detected mental health conditions is not only higher in women than in men, and in more senior individuals than in younger generations. It also affects more strongly groups with a lower socioeconomic status.
Mental health treatment commonly involves psychological counseling, medication, or a combination of the two. Similarly to the prevalence of mental health disorders, the consumption of medication is higher among women, older age groups, and people with a lower socioeconomic status. In 2020, for instance, 7.9 percent of female workers without a professional qualification consumed antidepressants in the European country. In contrast, the consumption of this kind of medication among women holding a university degree amounted to 3.2 percent that year. Altogether, the average daily dosage of antidepressants in Spain reached a value of 80.4 dosages per 1,000 inhabitants, which represents an almost twofold increase since 2004.
In Spain, approximately 1.9 million individuals, or the equivalent to 4.8 percent of the population, sought consultation with a psychologist, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist in 2020. Overall, younger generations of Spaniards are more prone to visit a mental health professional than more senior groups, which could indicate a reduction on the stigmatization of mental health in recent years. However, there are still economic and stigma-related obstacles to receiving adequate treatment. Although psychological counseling is available free of charge in the Spanish public healthcare system, insufficient resources mean that not everyone in need can access mental health care services. Consequently, many patients are faced with few other options other than turning to the private sector for treatment.
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