While infant mortality and alcohol use is lower in Iceland than in other OECD countries, it leads these nations in the use of prescription medication for depression.
Only 2 infants in 1,000 in Iceland die shortly after childbirth, according to the latest OECD figures, lower than any country on their list. Icelanders also drink 7.5 litres of alcohol per year, while the average is about ten litres. However, 95 of every 1,000 Icelanders are taking some form of medication for depression, while the OECD average is 52 per 1,000.
Psychiatrist Pétur Tyrfingsson attributes the high use of medication not necessarily to a higher instance of depression in Iceland, but to a shortage of alternatives. “The problem is mainly that we sell so much depression medication because other choices are not readily available nor covered by medical insurance,” he told Vísir in part.
Tyrfingsson would like instead for doctors to try behavioral therapies before resorting to medication, which he contends are more effective.