Researchers at the Danube University in Krems found that spending on psychotropic drugs, which are prescribed by doctors and dispensed by pharmacies and hospitals, increased by 31 percent between 2006 and 2013. This was significantly more than other spending increases in healthcare.
The study focussed on the use of antidepressants and antipsychotics – intended for people with severe depression or psychosis – and found that between 2006 and 2013 the amount of money spent on such medication increased from €144 million to €188 million. 18.7 million packs of psychotropic drugs were dispensed in 2013 – an increase of 25 percent.
'One in seven' mentally ill
Of a population of around eight million, around 900,000 people are registered as suffering from mental illness in Austria. 840,000 of these are treated with medication. Experts believe a further 300,000 people are not receiving any treatment – putting the total number of sufferers closer to 1.2 million. This means that one in seven Austrians could be mentally ill.
The World Health Organization has predicted that by 2030 depression will have overtaken heart disease, dementia and alcoholism to become the number one health problem globally.
In the past, medical experts in Austria have said that only a small proportion of mentally ill people are given adequate treatment, or are helped to stick with their treatment plan.
They have also pointed to a lack of psychotherapists within the state health system – a sad state of affairs for the country in which Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, began his career.