The figures from the Hospital Report 2010, released in Berlin on Tuesday by the health insurer Barmer GEK, also show that elderly Germans are having hip and knee replacements in record numbers.
Depressive disturbances accounted for 511 days in hospital per 10,000 people, followed by schizophrenia with 504 days and depressive episodes with 496 days. Part of the reason they rank so highly is that each sufferer tends to spend a long time in hospital – at least 30 days on average for all of those illnesses.
By comparison, childbirth, which came in as the number four reason for hospitalisation, kept women in hospital for an average of just 4.7 days, amounting to a total of 335 days per 10,000 people.
Mental illness is bucking the trend of shorter hospital stays. Since 1990, the average time a patients spends in a hospital bed with a mental illness has risen 54 percent, the report says.
Psychological disturbances due to alcohol were the fifth most common reason for hospitalisations, with 334 days per 10,000 people.
This was followed by heart failure, heart attack, femoral neck (or hip) fractures, arthritis of the knee and arthritis of the hip.
The report also shows that growing numbers of elderly people in Germany are having knee and hip replacements. In 2009, some 209,000 people had a hip replacement and 175,000 had knee replacements.
“If the trend continues, soon nearly every pensioner aged 60 to 65 will have a new knee or hip,” said the deputy head of the health insurer, Rolf-Ulrich Schlenker.