Austrians increasingly rely on antidepressants

A new study suggests that Austrians are increasingly being prescribed medication to treat serious depression and other mental disorders.

Austrians increasingly rely on antidepressants
Photo: Acdx/Wikimedia

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.

For members


How do I get a European Health Insurance Card in Austria?

An European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides EU residents with access to public healthcare across the bloc. Here’s what you need to know about getting an EHIC in Austria.

How do I get a European Health Insurance Card in Austria?

A big advantage of living in Europe is the ability to travel to so many different countries.

But sometimes accidents or illness can happen while on holiday or a work trip, which can mean an unplanned visit to a doctor.

READ ALSO: Austria recommends 4th Covid vaccine dose for everyone over 12

Thankfully, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides some protection against expensive medical bills in the form of reciprocal healthcare. 

Here’s what you need to know about the EHIC and how to get the card in Austria.

What is an EHIC?

An EHIC is a form of medical insurance cover and replaces the international health insurance voucher (form E111). It is issued free of charge and allows holders to access state-provided medical care while temporarily in another EU country. 

It works on a reciprocal basis through a country’s social security system and care is provided at the same cost as those insured in the country (which means it can be free, in some cases).

This means that if you have an e-card and are insured with one of the public health insurances in Austria, such as ÖGK, for example, you are entitled to the EHIC and to access public health services (to a certain extent) in other countries.

FOR MEMBERS: What is Austria’s e-card and what do you need to know about it?

The EHIC is valid in all 27 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the UK.

However, the EHIC is not an alternative to comprehensive travel insurance as it doesn’t cover any private healthcare costs, a flight home or lost/stolen property.

Why do I need an EHIC in Austria?

The main advantage of having an EHIC is if you need medical treatment while briefly travelling in another country.

While the coverage is limited to state-provided healthcare, it does mean you will be treated by a doctor and not liable to pay non-resident medical fees.

READ NEXT: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

Austria’s e-card – the national insurance card – is needed for almost all medical procedures. On the back, it contains the EHIC Ecard image: Wikicommons

How do I get an EHIC?

EHICs are issued by the national health country provider of the country where you live. This could be, for example, the ÖGK or SVA, depending on which provider you use in Austria.

In Austria, every e-card (the health insurance card that is used to visit a doctor) already contains an EHIC on the reverse of the card, so there is no need to apply for it separately. 

However, if the data fields on the EHIC on the back of your e-card contains stars (***) instead of personal information such as name and date of birth, further documentation is required to access healthcare in another EU country.

In this case, you need to contact your social security provider in Austria to receive a replacement card before you travel.

The EHIC is only valid on the condition that you are insured or co-insured in Austria.

Useful words 

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Travel insurance – Reiseversicherung

Healthcare – Gesundheitspflege

Useful links

European Commission

Austrian social insurance