A total of 7.7% of the Icelandic population, aged 15 years and over, experienced symptoms of depression in 2019. This proportion was slightly higher in Iceland compared with the EU average of 7.0% according to figures from Eurostat. Among European countries, the proportion was highest in France, 10.8%, and lowest in Serbia, 2.3%. The proportion has decreased in Iceland by 1.1 percentage point since 2015, when it was estimated as 8.8%. Of those who experienced symptoms in Iceland, 4.2% were considered to have mild symptoms and 3.6% major symptoms.
Depressive symptoms more common among women
More women (9%) than men (6.3%) experienced symptoms of depression. The proportion of women with major depressive symptoms was 4.5% while the proportion for men was 2.5%. By age groups, the proportion was highest in the group of 25-34 years, or 10.4%, and lowest in the group of 45-54 years where it was 6.4%. The proportion of women who experienced major depressive symptoms were higher than men across all age groups.
Proportion lowest for people in top income quintile and for people with tertiary education
The proportion of people with depressive symptoms was highest in the group of individuals in the second income quintile or 12.9%, with 6.6% experiencing mild symptoms and 6.2% major symptoms. The proportion was around 10% for individuals in the lowest and third income quintile but only 2.6% in the group of people in the fourth and top income quintile. The proportion of people with depressive symptoms was 8.0% for people with basic education, 10.7% for people with upper secondary education and 4.6% for people with tertiary education.
Evaluation of depressive symptoms
Depressive symptoms were assessed using the 8-item Patient health questionnaire (PHQ-8). Those individuals who were considered to have mild depressive symptoms had experienced two to four symptoms of the list more than half the time over the last two weeks. Those considered to have major depressive symptoms had experienced five or more symptoms more than half the time over the last two weeks. Also, individuals had to have experienced either little interest in or pleasure from doing things (item 1) or feeling down, depressed, or hopeless (item 2) to qualify as having symptoms.
About the data
The European Health Interview Survey (EHIS) is a coordinated study of health and health-related behavior carried out by the national statistical institutes of the Member states. For the 2019 sample, 6,600 individuals aged 15 years and over were selected randomly from the National Registry. When those who were deceased of living abroad had been filtered out the net sample consisted of 6,502 individuals. A total of 3,881 usable answerers were collected which is equivalent to a 59.7% response rate.