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The worldwide economic crisis of the last decade, and still unresolved, led to a great recession involving all major economies. Since economic factors may influence mental wellbeing, not surprisingly a rise in poor mental health was observed in different countries, while representing a great challenge to psychiatric interventions. This paper aims at reviewing the available English literature focusing on the impact of the current economic crisis on mental health, with a special focus on depression and suicide. Available studies indicate that consequences of economic crisis, such as unemployment, increased workload or work reorganization, and reduced staff and wages, may constitute important stressing factors with a negative impact on mental health. Although data are not easily comparable in different countries, depression seems to be the most common psychiatric disorders especially in middle-aged men. Even suicide rates seem to be increased in men, mainly in countries with no public welfare or poor family relationships. All these findings require a careful attention from both governments that cut resources on public health instead of investing in it, and psychiatric associations that should implement appropriate strategies to face and to manage this sort of depression epidemic driven by economic crisis. Again, as available data suggest that the impact of the crisis might have been attenuated in countries with higher spending in social protection, they clearly urge policy makers to take into account possible health externalities associated to inadequate social protection systems.
Ethnic differences may significantly influence the outcome of psychopharmacological treatment, in terms of prescription, adherence, clinical response, emergence of side effects, as well as pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. The purpose of this review was to explore the available literature in order to provide general suggestions to help clinicians in choosing the best therapeutic option for patients, taking into account ethnicity. Although findings are sometimes controversial, the overall published studies suggest that ethnicities other than Caucasians tend to show a lower response to antidepressants and a reduced compliance. Africans tend to be more prescribed with antipsychotics, probably due to cultural stereotypes, except with clozapine, probably for their chronic benign neutropenia. Asians usually require less antipsychotic dosages than Caucasians. The differential response and side effect profile of antidepressants and antipsychotics have been related to individual intrinsic factors, to genetic make-up, but also to cultural and contextual variables. Interestingly, albeit limited data suggest ethnic-related genetic heterogeneity at the level of the serotonin transporters, the cytochromes and some neuroreceptors. Taken together, no conclusive findings are available about the role and impact of ethnicity in psychopharmacology. One of the main problems is that the majority of the studies in psychopharmacology have been conducted on Caucasians, so that there is an urgent need to have data in other populations. Furthermore, in the era of precision medicine, the role of ethnicity may be also supported by genetic analysis.
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