Last update:


Arch Hellen Med, 35(Supplement 1), 2018, 17-26


Mental health in Greece during the economic crisis: socioeconomic determinants of depression

M. Economou,1,2 M. Charitsi,2 L.E. Peppou,2 E. Dieti,2 Κ. Souliotis3
1First Department of Psychiatry, Athens University Medical School, Eginition Hospital, Athens, Greece,
2University Mental Health Research Institute (UMHRI), Athens, Greece,
3Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, University of Peloponnese, Korinth, Greece

In the international literature, the adverse socio-economic conditions have been linked to a diversity of health and mental health conditions, including major depression. This is of sheer importance as depression is considered to be the greatest threat to mental health during times of recession. The present review aims to glean international evidence on the association between economic variables and major depression, as well as to discuss current findings emanating from Greek studies exploring the impact of the ongoing financial crisis on the prevalence of major depression in the Greek population. Previous international research points out the socioeconomic variables that constitute strong risk factors for the emergence of major depression, with low socio-economic status and unemployment being the most prominent among them. Furthermore, there is a substantial influence of job insecurity and indebtedness on the development of mental health issues. In Greece, a series of repeated nationwide cross-sectional surveys, conducted by the University Mental Health Research Institute (UMHRI), has substantiated an exacerbation of psychiatric morbidity, especially of major depression, and has verified the association of the latter with economic hardship. In particular, a steady rise in one-month prevalence of major depression has been recorded since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008. Heightened risk for major depression has been linked to severe economic distress and sharp increases in unemployment rates. The UMHRI research shows that the relationship between psychiatric morbidity and economic crisis is accounted by socioeconomic factors and demographic characteristics. The aforementioned evidence lends credence to the claim that depression constitutes a major public health concern in Greece amid the crisis, especially due to the alarming rise in the prevalence of the disorder throughout the years.

Key words: Depression, Economic crisis, Financial hardship, Mental health, Unemployment.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine