research group funded by the Science Fund of Serbia (#7528289) to evaluate mental health in Serbia in relation to pandemic reports preliminary information on the prevalence of depressive symptoms in Serbia using currently obtained data from one of the project research lines.

  • Currently, one in 18 persons aged 18-65 in Serbia is depressed – 5.7% (depression severity from mild to severe).
  • Being depressed does not directly indicate a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, but it indicates  psychic suffering and need for support
  • According to the data, the frequency of depression in Serbia doubled compared to the pre-pandemic period: from 2-3%, according to the Serbian Health Surveys 2013 and 2019, to 5.7% now.
  • Currently, there is an increase in the prevalence of mild to moderate depression in Serbia, probably as a reaction to the pandemic. Frequency of severe depression (suicidality registered in 80% of the cases) was constant before and during the pandemic – 0.4%.
  • Depression during the pandemic increased significantly in females, younger population and in the upper-third of the socio-economic ladder (education, status, income).
  • In comparison to the prevalence of depression in the EU before the pandemic (6.6%), the prevalence of depression in Serbia was lower compared to the EU both before and during the pandemic  – the reasons are still to be determined.
  • Doubling of the prevalence of depression was recorded not only in Serbia, but in the other European countries as well. The prevalence of depression in the United Kingdom was 13% during the pandemic, in Austria 18-21%, etc.
  • Online surveys are not reliable for assessment of the psychiatric conditions in Serbia. The headlines in the media announced that ‘one month after the state of emergency was declared in Serbia, the prevalence of moderate to severe depression was 28.9%- online surveys can completely distort the real prevalence of
  • Mental health is considered as a public health priority- therefore, when making conclusions and decisions about mental health conditions, the decision makers should rely on the results from the research using representative samples instead of convenience and online sampling;  any kind of sensationalism should be avoided.

A comprehensive analysis of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health in Serbia is yet to be explored. Final results from the research on the prevalence of the psychiatric condition in the general population in Serbia, the intensity of the COVID- stress syndrome, general health, use of anti-anxiety medications, loneliness, beliefs on the origin and on the spread of the pandemic, positive and negative aspects of the current situation, quality of life, personality traits, etc. are expected at the beginning of 2022.