Depression occurs in around 10 per cent of general practice attendees (Wright, 1994). Relapse often occurs five to 10 years after first presentation (Vasquez-Barquero et al 1997, Fernandez Logrono et al 1999, Ormel et al, 1993) and residual disability is common (Jenkins, 1985). Anxiety disorders are also highly prevalent in primary care (Ansseau et al 2005, Wittchen, 2002) and lead to increased use of health services and morbidity (Rollman et al 2003). The estimated prevalence of generalised anxiety disorder is 5 to 16 per cent (Wittchen, 2002), while panic disorder varies between 1.5 and 13per cent (Craske et al 2002). Most people suffering anxiety or depression will visit their general practitioner, whether or not they complain of their psychological symptoms and thus prevalence rates in that setting are only slightly elevated above community rates (Goldberg & Huxley, 1992).
The PREDICT study is taking place in six European countries in order to develop a multi-factor risk index to predict onset of depression in primary care attendees (King et al 2006). In this paper we examine whether differences between participating countries in the prevalence rates of the common mental disorders (depression, anxiety and panic syndromes) remain after taking account of socio-economic differences.