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You know times are tough when Italians are taking more antidepressants

Ah, Italy. Land of Vespas, Roman ruins, fiery romance, and increasingly, antidepressants.

Between 2004 and 2012, consumption of antidepressants rose 4.5% in Italy, according to a report released by the Italian Medicines Agency today.

The rise in consumption of anti-depression meds was driven by an uptick among women and the elderly, the agency reported. The Italian wire service ANSA wrote:

The AIFA added that it is becoming concerned with a growing prevalence of depression among Italians. It cited some studies that suggest that by 2020, depression will be the second-most serious ailment – after cardiovascular diseases – responsible for the reductions in good health and activity. Antidepressants are also one of the largest categories of medications in the public health budget.

Of course, Italy is a long way from being the world’s most depressive nations. According to the OECD, nations like Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and Australia have some of highest usage rates of antidepressants. Still, Italian officials tie the increase in antidepressant usage to some of the country’s recent economic turmoil.

No wonder. A glance at Italy’s unemployment rate—which continues to hover around record highs—would make anybody depressed.

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