It is no surprise that after all the protests and elections with will have lasting effects on the population psychological stress is taking its toll.
For the past five years, Lisa Kalbari has observed the impact of Greece’s economic crisis from an airy office on a quiet side street far removed from the teargas and tumult afflicting central Athens.
Dr Kalbari is a psychologist. Each day her couch hosts a procession of patients suffering from anxiety, sleep disorders, depression and other maladies – many of them exacerbated, she believes, by a crisis that has pushed the unemployment rate above 25 per cent while depriving Greeks of any certainty about the future.
“We have a lot of panic attacks,” she says. “For the older generation, it’s like a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. They have experienced war and poverty. For them, it’s about dignity – they don’t want to be humiliated again after reaching a high point.”
The toll the crisis has taken on Greece’s mental health tends to be overshadowed by more urgent concerns about hunger or poverty. Nonetheless, there is increasing evidence of the psychological strain on Greek society – from increased diagnoses of depression to an uptick in suicides – and the human wreckage it may leave behind long after the economy has been mended.
“All types of psychological disorders have increased – anxiety, depression, abuses, somatisation, antisocial behaviour,” says Argyro Voulgari, a clinical psychologist at the Hellenic Centre for Mental Health and Research.
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