More young adults report symptoms of depression

Young people at an indoor leisure centre in Winterthur Keystone / Ennio Leanza

Increasing numbers of young adults in Switzerland are suffering symptoms of depression, according a new national health report. But the suicide rate among those under 25 has decreased by half over the last 30 years.

This content was published on August 28, 2020 - 13:05

Overall, however, nine out of ten young people who participated in the National Health Report 2020 study said they felt in good health. The research was carried out by the Swiss Health Observatory (Obsan) before the coronavirus pandemic.

In all, 13.5% of 16-to-25-year-olds said they suffered medium to severe symptoms of depression in 2017 – up from 10.4% in 2012, according to the report. This compares to 8.6% among the entire Swiss population.

When it came to full-blown depression the rate was 3.6% (compared with 6.6% among the general population).

The number of 11-to-15-year-olds with multiple psycho-affective complaints (tiredness, bad moods, nervousness, sadness, anxiety, anger issues, problems getting to sleep) has also increased, especially issues linked to sleep and tiredness, the study found.

The suicide rate has dropped by half over the past 30 years: by 51% among girls and young women and by 62% among boys and young men. Suicide nevertheless remains the most frequent cause of death among young adults over 16, the report noted. In 2017, 87 children and young people committed suicide.

General health

Overall, nine out of ten young people said they felt in good health, Obsan reported, “despite the fact that two out of every ten children, young people and young adults live with either a chronic health risk or chronic disease”.

This includes obesity, which has reduced slightly among younger children.

Road accidents have also reduced significantly, even they are still one of the main causes of death among children and teenagers. For example, among those under 14 years of age, there are as many traffic accident deaths as cancer deaths, the report said.

The National Health Report 2020 presents current knowledge about the health of children, young people and young adults in Switzerland, taking into account their environment and health behaviour, as well as the health system. The data is aimed at helping officials draw up health promotion policies “in order to be ready for future challenges” such as newly discovered risks from digital media. However, the report’s authors note that some data gaps need to be filled.

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