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03-09-2012 | Psychology | Article

Economic crisis increases depression rates

Abstract

Free abstract

medwireNews: Depression rates in Greece have increased significantly since the start of the current economic crisis, study findings show.

In telephone interviews conducted with nationally representative samples of adults, aged 18-69 years, Marina Economou (University Mental Health Research Institute, Athens, Greece) and team found that the 1-month prevalence of major depression was 8.2% in 2011 compared with 3.3% in 2008 - a significant increase.

"The findings of the present study show a profound and detrimental influence of the economic crisis on the mental health of the Greek population, and especially on the prevalence of major depression," comment the researchers.

"This is of primary concern, if one takes into consideration that depression constitutes one of the main contributors to disease burden and disability worldwide."

The team used the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders to investigate the prevalence of depression among 2197 Greek adults in 2008 and 2256 in 2011.

Specifically, respondents who reported experiencing depressed mood and/or persistent loss of interest/motivation for at least 2 weeks in the previous month were asked about experiencing seven additional symptoms most of the time during the same time period.

Participants recounting at least five symptoms were then asked whether those symptoms made it hard for them to work or study, take care of things at home, or get along with other people. To meet criteria for a major depressive episode, symptoms could not have been explained by a general medical condition, substance use or abuse, or bereavement.

The researchers found that, overall, the risk for experiencing major depression was 2.6 times greater in 2011 than in 2008.

They also found that there was a significant association between major depression and personal economic hardship. Indeed, each 1-unit increase in the Personal Economic Distress score was associated with a 1.2-fold increase in the risk for experiencing major depression.

Other factors significantly associated with an increased risk for depression included younger age and being married.

"The study adds evidence to the dearth of empirical work on the impact of the economic crisis on the mental health of the general population from a country which has been on the verge of default," say Economou et al.

They add: "Since substantial rises in the prevalence of depression were documented roughly for all population subgroups… preventive interventions should not be tailored on particular subgroups (eg, the unemployed), but should address the vast majority of the population. In addition, clinicians and health care providers should be alert for symptoms of depression, especially among young people, married individuals, and those experiencing financial distress."

medwireNews (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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