The figures were published by the BMC Medicine Journal. The research involved 89,037 people in 18 different countries, including 2,400 Belgians.
The results show that 5 percent of the Belgian respondents suffered from a "major depression" for at least two weeks in the year prior to the interview. This so-called "major depression disorder" has a number of symptoms like a depressed mood, a sleeping disorder, a lack of appetite and energy, a diminished interest or pleasure in life and recurrent thoughts of death.
Looking at long-term figures, it can be concluded that 14 percent of the Belgians, which equals 1 in 7 persons, will be confronted with a depression at one stage or another during their lifetime. Chances of girls or women to get a depression, are twice as big as for men. Teenage girls and women in their menopause are especially vulnerable.
France heads the list, Belgium on 7
The research puts Belgium in 7th place in the list of 18 countries. France tops the list with 21 percent of the population suffering from a major depression at one stage in their life. France is followed by the United States (19 percent), Brazil (18.4 percent) and the Netherlands (17.9 percent). At the bottom of the list are Mexico (8 percent), Japan (6.6 percent) and China (6.5 percent).
Researchers think that stress in the rich countries is a major factor. Those in less-paid jobs are confronted the success of others who are in better jobs and are trying to reach the same goal, which often does not work. Better family ties and a bigger religious impact on people in poorer countries can also be an explanation. The low figure in poor countries can also be explained by the fact that speaking about depression is often a taboo, which could have influenced statistics.