More Than 500,000 Greeks Suffer From Depression



Young man sitting looking upset

The economic crisis in Greece has led to an increase in mental disorders, with depression being the most common as more than half million Greeks suffer from it.

The data regarding the increase in mental disorders were presented during the Second Convention on Mental Health held in Athens on Thursday.

“In 2015, patients suffering from depression in Greece exceeded 500,000, reaching the population size of a very large city,” said Ioannina University psychiatry professor, Petros Skapinakis.

According to experts, mental disorders usually affect patients in a difficult phase in their lives. The economic crisis of recent years is not considered a difficult phase in the life of Greeks but a chronic, toxic situation that poisons their mental tranquility.

“All mental illnesses affect longevity and quality of life and significantly increase the cost to the health systems. Mental health problems, instead of being tackled adequately,as many patients go to the doctor 10 years later. Many times, patients do not consider themselves ill. Also they have difficulty accessing a psychiatrist, while many think the treatment is too costly. But the more delayed the treatment, the greater the likelihood of the disorder causing disabilities,” Skapinakis said.

“After the introduction of austerity measures in Greece, there was a sharp increase in suicides by 35%, and especially for men at their productive age,”said Marina Economou, psychiatry professor at University of Athens, citing data from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), according to which 36% of the population in Greece are verging on poverty and social exclusion.

“The economic crisis should not be seen as a continuing state of emergency, but one opportunity to revise and reorganize the mental health system. Human rights are not disposable,” said professor of criminology of University of Athens Yiannis Panousis.

To that effect, Health Minister Andreas Xanthos said that the integration of the Korydallos Psychiatric Hospital to the National Health System (ESY) and its transformation into a modern psychiatric facility will be part of a government effort to “reboot” reforms in psychiatry in Greece.