Every third patient in primary care suffers from depression, anxiety or alcohol problems

Nord J Psychiatry. 2008;62(3):250-5. doi: 10.1080/08039480802141129.


The aims of the study were to explore the prevalence of patients with depression and anxiety in primary care, its co-occurrence with hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and its relation to gender, age and reason for visit. A questionnaire, including the self-rating Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale and the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test, was consecutively distributed to 1800 patients at 11 primary healthcare centres in the county of Västerbotten, Sweden. The response rate was 77.3% (1392 patients), 38% men and 62% women. A total of 31.9% showed symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, with no gender differences. Harmful/hazardous alcohol use was found in 11.9% of the patients, 17.3% in men and 8.8% in women, although the region in Sweden has relatively low alcohol consumption among the population. Age was an important factor. Incidences of the conditions often occurred simultaneously. About half (51%) of those with harmful/hazardous alcohol use also showed symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. The most common causes for patients with symptoms of depression, anxiety or risk consumption of alcohol to seek care were the same as for the general population, namely complaints of pain or infection. Only 7.8% visited the primary care for psychiatric reasons, according to their own given reasons. In all, 38% of the patients showed signs of psychiatric symptoms and/or alcohol problems or a combination of these. The fact that every third patient showed symptoms of depression, anxiety and/or alcohol problems underlines the strategic position for early identification, intervention and treatment within primary healthcare.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infections / epidemiology
  • Infections / psychology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Personality Inventory
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden