Thu, Jun 23, 2011 - Page 6 News List

FEATURE: Serbs go from pill poppers to couch therapy

AFP, BELGRADE

CRISIS YEARS

“Years of crisis in our country with numerous acute and chronic stressors have adversely affected the mental health of the population,” the 2009 study said. “The absolute number of persons with depressive, stress-related and psychosomatic disorders is on the rise.”

Like many therapists, Miric charges about 20 to 30 euros (US$28 to US$42) for an hour-long session, a considerable amount in a country where the average salary is about 350 euros a month.

Damnjanovic, a psychologist by training, said her clients are mostly “ordinary people, students and those who might belong to a middle class.”

Many of those turning to therapy are still trying to adapt to the switch from socialism to a tough free market economy that demands assertiveness and competitiveness.

Damnjanovic also pointed to the increased number of people believed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following the brutal 1990s wars in the region.

A taboo subject just a decade ago, post-traumatic stress disorder has gotten attention as the country increasingly questions its role in the Balkan wars, where ethnic cleansing campaigns gave rise to atrocities unseen in Europe since World War II.

Some of this examination might have been prompted by the high-profile arrests of ex-Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic last month and former Bosnian Serb leader and psychiatrist Radovan Karadzic in 2008, both after years on the run — and widespread speculation EU-hopeful Belgrade knew their whereabouts all along.

The two men are charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

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