According to the European Health Interview Survey in 2015 Iceland had the fourth highest proportion of people with depressive symptoms. Women were more likely than men to report such symptoms. The gender gap was largest among 15-24 year olds and people aged 65 years and over. Young women in Iceland were more likely to report depressive symptoms than young women in other European countries.
Depressive symptoms most common in Sweden among the Nordic countries
Nearly 9% of people in Iceland are estimated to have depressive symptoms on the basis of the European Health Interview Survey. This is the fourth highest rate among participating countries. Just over 4% had severe symptoms, which is the second highest rate in Europe.
Hungary had the highest frequency of depressive symptoms, little over 10%, while the Czech Republic had the lowest, around 3%. Of the Nordic countries Sweden had the highest rate, over 9%, and Finland the lowest, just under 5%. Norway and Denmark are just over 6%.
Women more likely than men to report depressive symptoms
Women in Iceland were more likely than men to report depressive symptoms, nearly 11% compared with just under 7%, respectively. This holds for all age groups but the gender gap is particularly marked in the youngest and oldest age groups. Among 15-24 year olds almost 18% of women and 10% of men reported symptoms while among people 65 years old and older some 11% of women and 4.5% of men reported depressive symptoms.
Depressive symptoms among young women most frequent in Iceland
The proportion of young women (15-24 years old) with depressive symptoms is higher in Iceland than in other European countries, just under 18%. Sweden and Denmark are in second and third place with around 15%. Depressive symptoms are least common in Cyprus and Lithuania, approximately 0.5%, and the Czech Republic, almost 1%.
Depressive symptoms are measured using the 8 item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8). Those who are measured as having depressive symptoms need to have two out of eight items for over half the time in the previous two weeks. One of these must be either 1) little interest in or pleasure from doing things; or 2) feeling down, depressed or hopeless. To count as having major depressive symptoms five out of eight items must apply for over half the time in the previous two weeks. One of these must be either 1) little interest in or pleasure from doing things; or 2) feeling down, depressed or hopeless.
About the European Health Interview Survey
Health interview surveys offer comprehensive data on the health status of a population and health-related topics based on answers by respondents of a representative sample of the population. The Icelandic survey was conducted in autumn 2015. The sample consisted of 5,700 individuals drawn randomly from the population registry. This yielded responses from 4,001 persons, a response rate of 70.2%.