Depression on the rise: Around every sixth person affected!

Study shows: Depression has increased significantly

Depression has been diagnosed in Germany more and more frequently since 2009 than in previous years. In 2017, around every sixth person with statutory health insurance (GKV) suffered from depressive disorders. This emerges from a current study on the diagnosis prevalence of depressive disorders.

The Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance in the Federal Republic of Germany (Zi) provides information on current developments in health care. A recent study on depression showed that the frequency with which a depressive disorder was diagnosed increased by 26 percent between 2009 and 2017. The nationwide contract medical billing data of more than 60 million legally insured persons formed the basis for the data. The results were recently presented in the supply atlas.

Almost 40 million depression diagnoses

In total, 15.7 percent of all people in statutory health insurance were affected by depression at least once in 2017 - roughly every sixth person. In 2009, however, “only” 12.5 percent suffered from depressive disorders. There was also a significant increase in the total number of diagnoses. This indicates that many people have experienced depression several times. According to the Central Institute, around 25.5 million depression diagnoses were made in 2009. In 2017, this number increased by 54 percent and almost 40 million depressive disorders were diagnosed.

Common Depression: Who Is At Risk?

Depression is diagnosed more often in women, but the greatest increase in the diagnosis of depressive disorders has been recorded among young men. The Zi team saw a 40 percent increase in prevalence in this group. By contrast, the rate among women rose by 20 percent in general. Overall, depression is diagnosed 1.9 times more often in women than in men. In 2009, 2.2 times more depression was documented in women.

Depression levels rise regardless of the life situation

The study also shows that people living in the countryside had a greater increase in depression than people living in urban areas. The prevalence of diagnosis approached the townspeople. The same was evident in the east-west difference. In the new federal states, the frequency of depression diagnosis rose by 41 percent. An increase of 23 percent was observed in the old federal states. An alignment of the events was also evident here.

What conclusions can be drawn?

"Overall, the study shows a gradual alignment of the diagnosis prevalence at all spatial levels, whereby clear regional differences are still evident," summarizes the Zi research team. A pronounced increase in the diagnosis of depression in men has led to a weakening of the gender difference. Overall, the study underlines the increasing importance of depressive disorders in contract medical care and reveals a strong dynamic in the development of diagnostic prevalence. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Steffen A, Holstiege J, Akmatov MK, Bätzing J. Temporal trends in the prevalence of diagnosis of depressive disorders: an analysis based on nationwide contract medical billing data from 2009 to 2017, Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance in Germany (Zi). Supply Atlas Report No. 19/05, Berlin 2019, DOI: 10.20364 / VA-19.05, on the study
  • Central Institute for Statutory Health Insurance in Germany (Zi): Temporal trends in the diagnosis prevalence of depressive disorders (available on June 27, 2019),

Video: The surprisingly dramatic role of nutrition in mental health. Julia Rucklidge. TEDxChristchurch (January 2022).