Symptoms of depression strike at ever younger ages

One in 10 men and two in five women will develop symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. And the affliction is appearing at ever younger ages, largely due to unemployment, experts say. As the president of the Hellenic Psychiatric Association, Professor Georgios Christodoulou, and associate professors of psychiatry, Vassilis Alevizos and Vassileios Kontaxakis, said ahead of the 18th Panhellenic Psychiatry Congress due to start tomorrow on Kos, one in four patients has some form of mental disorder, of which depression is the most common. Thirty is the average age at which the disorder appears, but in the last few years, say psychiatrists, social factors have resulted in depression making inroads into ever younger age groups. A determining role is played by youth unemployment, which has been linked to mental disorders, violent behavior and suicidal tendencies. One of the tragic outcomes of a depressive disorder is suicide. Indicatively, 60 percent of people who killed themselves were suffering from depression at the time. Greece is blessed with a low suicide rate, with four suicides per 100,000 inhabitants; Hungary has the highest (23 per 100,000 inhabitants). However, this country has a large number of road accidents, and, according to experts, aggressive behavior which is expressed through reckless driving is linked to suicidal tendencies. While women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more likely to succeed in killing themselves. A complex phenomenon, suicide has been associated with biological factors, the weather – most suicides are committed in spring and summer – and social cohesion. According to Kontaxakis, the existence of support systems within society, such as the family, can dissuade an individual from taking such a course. By contrast, loners run a greater risk of dying by their own hand. Urbanization, the disappearance of the neighborhood and alienation are also significant factors.

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