Mental health in Europe:
As I sit here typing the garbage truck is growling along toward the land fill carrying two things of interest to me.  One is the garbage man.  For years we have been friends.  We wave as he passes on his rounds.  We speak when we meet in a shop.  I put out a box of cheese for him each Christmas. 

The other thing is a bit more relevant.  It is an article about mental health in Europe.  Somehow I read it and failed to keep it.  I suppose it was more interesting on reflection.  I cannot give you the reference, therefore, but I shall try to recount the facts as best I can.  (All right, as of September 24, 2011 I found it.  It’s Brain Burdens, NATURE vol. 477 no. 7363 September 8, 2011 page 132 reviewing an article: H. U. Wittchen et al. Eur. Neuropsychopharmacol. 21, 655–679; 2011.  His email is )

Things are not real good for mental health in Europe just now.  The article said that each year 38 % of Europeans have a fully developed mental illness.  Can that be right?  That would be appalling.  Since there are mental illnesses that are episodic – one may not get depressed every year – and since they usually appear at some time after earliest childhood, that means that a very much larger percentage of Europeans will have a mental illness at some time in their lives.

The study the article cited did not show any increase over five years.  But with numbers like that, who needs an increase? 

Alcoholism was notable among men in Eastern Europe.  Depression was notable among women and appeared to be setting in during their childbearing years.

Suddenly I smell the quarry.  Fertility is very low in Eastern Europe.  Proposition: the women are getting depressed because they are not having the children they expect, and the men drink because the women are depressed.  It makes sense.  Or maybe the same thing that is degrading the fertility of people (and that one I feel quite sure is failure to marry cousins) is also degrading their brains. 

On the other hand it has been established that urban living correlates with a higher rate of mental illness.  Maybe it is because of the same mechanism. 

That should be testable by statistical means.  If I can recover the article somehow maybe there is someone I can put on the spoor.

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