Spain Explained

Who’s the most depressed in Europe?

Last updated on September 13th, 2019 at 09:11 am.

There is no doubt that it is harder to scowl than to smile when the sun is shining. The wonderful weather makes such a difference to your outlook as well as your way of life.  But is this just an impression we get or is there some truth in the assertion that Spain makes you smile? And does it still make you smile if you have to work here?

‘IDEA: Impact of Depression at Work in Europe Audit’ compared seven countries: France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Denmark. It asked the question, ‘Have you ever personally been diagnosed as having depression by a doctor/ medical professional?’

The country which had the highest ‘yes’ response to this question was Great Britain with 26% responding that they had. Behind Great Britain was Turkey with 23% and then workers in Spain with 21%. The least likely to be diagnosed as depressed were employees in Italy, with only 12% indicating that they had suffered from depression. France, Denmark and Germany all recorded 19%.

So, on this measure, although Spanish workers do  well in comparison to Great Britain, Italy is well ahead of everyone. Of course, seemingly clear data can hide a number of secrets. For example, the likelihood of a doctor or medical professional diagnosing depression might vary between countries.

There are also some other telling facts. Employees who had not been diagnosed with depression were asked whether they would tell their employer or not if they were. Danish employees were overwhelmingly more likely to tell their boss. 63% said that they would in comparison to the most secretive country which was France with 20%. Of the Italian employees only 23% indicated that they would. 

This perhaps suggests that depression is not something as openly diagnosed or discussed in Italy and France rather than that people are less depressed there. 35% of the Spanish employees and 31% of those in Great Britain would inform their boss. French employees were more than twice as likely not to tell their boss as to tell them.

Employees most likely to take time off work for depression were in Germany (61%) and Denmark (60%). Great Britain recorded 58% and Spain 52%. The country where depressed employees were least likely to take time off was Turkey. The length of time taken was highest in Germany (41.3 working days) and Great Britain (41 days). The lowest were Italy (23.1 days) and Spain (30.6 days).

Cross-country comparisons can be interesting but are also very unreliable. In the end so many factors operate differently between cultures that the questions you ask are already loaded with variables. However, it’s something to talk about and something to challenge next time the sun is shining.

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