Annual Report on the Spanish Health Service

A recent report from the National Health System, published by the Ministry of Health, provides a detailed overview of health in our country, highlighting an alarming increase in cases of mental and behavioral disorders.

Despite widespread confidence in the healthcare system, the document reveals concerning figures about the mental health of the Spanish population. According to the report, hospital care is positively rated by the majority of citizens, scoring 7.2 out of 10. However, primary care receives a slightly lower rating, reaching 6.2 points. In 2022, hospital care attended to four million admitted patients and performed 3.4 million surgical interventions. Primary care, on the other hand, managed 453 million consultations.

Although three out of four Spaniards consider their health “good or very good,” the report points out that sedentary lifestyle affects four out of ten people in their leisure time.

The main causes of mortality continue to be cardiovascular diseases and cancer, representing more than 50% of recorded deaths. Additionally, mental health emerges as a significant problem, with over 4,000 annual suicides. Alarming Prevalence of Mental Health Problems The report details the mental health situation in Spain, presenting data updated until 2021. With age-adjusted prevalence, 357.2 cases of mental and behavioral disorders were recorded per 1,000 inhabitants in that year. This represents an increase of 13% compared to 2019 and 43.5% compared to 2016.

The increase in cases is more pronounced in women and older individuals.

The national prevalence of 357.2 breaks down to 326.8 for men and 384.3 for women. Additionally, 37% of the total population experiences some type of mental health problem, a figure that increases to 50% in those over 75 years old. Mental Health: Significant Regional Differences The report reveals marked differences in the prevalence of mental health problems by autonomous communities.

Castilla-La Mancha, with only 93.3 cases per 1,000 inhabitants, is positioned as the region with the lowest incidence, well below the national average. It is followed by Extremadura with 118.8 and the Basque Country with 293.3 cases.

In contrast, the Canary Islands tops the list with 485.1 cases per 1,000 inhabitants, closely followed by the Valencian Community (455.7), the Region of Murcia (426.7), and the Balearic Islands (419.5).

Despite these figures, Spain ranks with the fifth lowest rate of hospitalizations for mental and behavioral disorders in the European Union.

The report highlights the urgent need to address mental health problems in Spain, emphasizing the importance of implementing preventive and intervention measures at the national level.

Seasonal Depression

Also known as seasonal affective disorder, manifests in autumn and winter, dissipating in spring and summer, as stated by MedlinePlus, the portal of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Experts emphasize that seasonal changes affect mood, leading to noticeable emotional fluctuations during the cold seasons.

In autumn and winter, shorter days can induce feelings of sadness, while the arrival of spring and more sunlight can improve emotional well-being.

This seasonal disorder is characterized by recurrent patterns, with symptoms persisting between 4 and 5 months per year.

People experiencing seasonal depression often go through periods of melancholy and distress during the colder months, experiencing noticeable improvements with the arrival of spring. These mood changes, closely linked to the seasons, define this affective disorder.

It is essential to be alert to the following common symptoms of seasonal depression:

  • Feelings of hopelessness: Persistent feelings of discouragement and lack of hope can be a key indicator.
  • Low energy: Constant fatigue and lack of energy, even for daily tasks.
  • Sadness: Deep and prolonged feelings of sadness that affect emotional well-being.
  • Sleep difficulties: Disturbances in sleep patterns, either insomnia or excessive sleep.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide: Suicidal ideation or persistent concern about death.
  • Excessive sleep or insomnia: Extremely long or short sleep patterns.
  • Social withdrawal: Distancing from social activities and preferring isolation.
  • Excessive carbohydrate consumption: A tendency to seek comfort in carbohydrate-rich foods.
  • Weight gain: Significant weight gain during the affected season.
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities: Disinterest in activities that normally bring pleasure and satisfaction.

Recognizing these signs is the first step to seek support and appropriate treatment. If you identify with several of these symptoms, it is crucial to consult with a mental health professional for guidance and proper support.

You can find a comprehensive list of English-speaking healthcare professionals in the ESHA Spain business directory

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