Depression in Austria Nearly Doubled Since 2019, Says OECD Study

In the pandemic year of 2020, more than one in five people (21%) in Austria reported symptoms of depression – twice as many people as in 2019. This was according to the new “health at a glance” report by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). An increase in depression and anxiety disorders was also visible in other countries.

In the study, the Organisation compared key indicators for the health of a population and the performance of the health care system in 38 member countries and several “emerging nations”. The coronavirus took center stage. In 2020 and the first half of 2021, COVID-19 contributed directly and indirectly to a 16 percent increase of the expected deaths in OECD countries, said the report.

Per one OECD summary report, “Austria had the 13th-highest vaccination rate across 37 OECD countries on July 1, but had fallen to 14th-lowest as of November 1.”

Overall mortality in Austria increased in 2020 and the first half of 2021 by 9.1 percent, compared with 2015 to 2019. Life expectancy fell in 24 of 30 countries, by 0.6 years on average.

In 2019, life expectancy in Austria at birth was 82 years on average. In 2020, it was 81.3 years.

Over 90 percent of COVID-19 deaths were in people older than 60. But disadvantaged people or people living in disadvantaged places, minorities, and immigrants all had a higher risk of catching corona or dying of their infection.

Fighting the crisis also, unsurprisingly, increased health expenditures. In 2019, Great Britain spent 10.2 percent of its GDP on health; 12.8 percent in 2020. The increase in Austria was 10.4 to 11.5 percent over the same time period.

Moreover, their research confirms what doctors have been saying: The pandemic also had an impact on non-COVID medical care. There were 34 percent fewer colorectal cancer check-ups in 2020 compared with 2019. The waiting period for elective surgery also increased: In 2020, people waiting for a replacement hip, for example, had to wait 58 days longer on average than in 2019.

Reported in cooperation with the Austrian Press Agency / APA.