Those Crazy Europeans

Some of us on this side of the pond have suspected such for years, but nobody thought it was this bad:

Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study.

With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden — measured in the hundreds of billions of euros — as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.

“Mental disorders have become Europe’s largest health challenge of the 21st century,” the study’s authors said.

The article woefully neglects the obligatory dot connecting, we can do that here.

Ruling out the easy stuff first, let’s assume that most modern democratic (even social democratic ones like in the EU) nations provide pretty much the same things for it’s citizens (and you might disagree with this) in the way of creature comforts and those things that facilitate an “ease of well being”, and assuming that it is not one of these reasons:

Nanny State- We have that here, to a degree that is hard to differentiate in this new era of Obama.
Welfare State- Again, we are really millimeters behind in providing cradle to grave entitlements.
Roiled Markets/Economic Uncertainty- more of the same right here in the states.
No Confidence in our Leaders- birds of a feather.
Unemployment- It is higher in Europe, but not demonstrably (9.5% collectively), this can’t be the tipping point.
Creeping Sharia/Immigration Assimilation Difficulties- it might be cavalier to rule this out since Europe is struggling with this, which would naturally cause its citizens some consternation and strife, but for this post I will rule it out and declare it a tempest in a teapot.

A direct comparison of the prevalence of mental illnesses in other parts of the world was not available because different studies adopt varying parameters.

And this is where the truth probably lies, methodology/benchmarks not applied uniformly to all nations, hence this “mental illness” would be plaguing most of the industrialized world.

Some other factors to consider:

Economics- If we follow the money and suspect that most studies are economically driven, this could be a play for more research money, grant money, or to put the heavy lifting on the government to pony up that which drug companies are leery and unwilling to do. Creating a mental health crisis will certainly light a fire,” putting the onus on governments and health charities to stump up funding for neuroscience”.

The decline of morals/religious values- If Karl Marx was right about religion being the opium of the people, a lack thereof of religion and it’s teachings, or a deliberate separation between the people and the concept of religion could have a material impact. For some, religion has been effective in managing anxiety, depression, providing hope and comfort in healing a damaged psyche.

In times of uncertainty, I think all of us get a little more crazy, more anxious, and more circumspect, and I don’t think Europeans are that much different then the rest of us.

Comments are closed.

  1. AlexInCT

    People that believe in nothing substantial, have no idea what their purpose is, and feel they are not obligated to do anything while being taken care of by others, tend to lead meaningless lives. It is quite obvious people with meaningless lives often suffer from depression. And SO is right: socialism makes people crazy AND stupid.

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  2. sahrab


    Can you clarify what you mean here?

    People that believe in nothing substantial, have no idea what their purpose is, and feel they are not obligated to do anything while being taken care of by others, tend to lead meaningless lives

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  3. AlexInCT

    Religion has been called the opiate of the masses for a reason sahrab. It gave most people some purpose and meaning to a dreary and bland existence. For right or for wrong, in Europe, religion these days is nothing but a hobby. And although the green movement and big government have stepped up to fill the void, they are poor substitutes in the grand scheme of things. I can clearly see that when those with a need to belong to something or have a purpose – as they all are told they have even if not the case – are left feeling that life is just something that happened by chance, and we are all here as just an accident -that their is no meaning to the whole grand scheme – that many people will become depressed. Couple that with a nanny state that tries to remove all responsibility from the individual, and I would say you have a recipe for depression.

    I am not saying this is logical or that the answer is more religion, but simply that when you have a lot of free time and realize you aren’t really important in the grand scheme of things, it can bring you down. I myself do not practice any religion because I do not feel the need, but then again, I don’t feel like I need to be the center of the universe and then get all down when that doesn’t bear out either. Then again, it might just be that their diets don’t give them enough salt and they are not getting enough sunlight, and lack of those vitamins are making them depressed?

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  4. Miguelito

    I don’t know.. my personal initial take on this is that it’s just more classifying of stuff as a problem when it’s not. I mean, sure there’s clinical depression and other serious versions of these, but if they’re really classifying any instance of “depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia”
    as a “mental and neurological illnesses” then the numbers are going to look a lot worse then they are. I mean, come on, pretty much every human being suffers from depression, anxiety and/or insomnia at some point in their lives. Doesn’t mean it really should be classified as a serious illness, anymore then we should classify every case of the common cold or skinned knees as serious medical conditions.

    Also, classifying dementia in there. Well people live longer now, and guess what tends to happen more often as people live longer? Even my grandfather is showing signs of dementia now, but hell, he’s 90 years old now.

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