By Hwaa Irfan
One became aware of the social climate in Europe as more and more expats would descend on places like Egypt to escape the emotional climate in their respective countries. They would return for holidays, but had no hesitation basing themselves in Cairo, Egypt as the emotional climate back home remained the same. However, this was before the Arab Spring where fear has sent most back home. Their presence had supported many Egyptian businesses that have since fallen into decline increasing the unemployment situation in Cairo. The magnificent programs put on by well established institutions like the Cairo Opera House, have dwindled as expats struggle to re-establish their lives in their home countries.
So, it is not too surprising that the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology should come up with the revelation that a third of Europeans are suffering from a mental disorder in any given year, i.e. 164 million people! The numbers break down into:
– Anxiety disorders 14%
– Insomnia 7%
– Depression 6.9%
– Dementia 5.4%
The study found 90% of anxiety disorders were found in young people before they reached 18 years of age. A clear link has been made to the changing social conditions, which I add has been heightened by the global economic crisis, but the study adds is a result of more women doing two jobs, i.e. running a family, employment outside of the home, and divorce increasingly commonplace. Women tended to lead towards depression, while men resort escapism, i.e. alcohol.
It is when times are hard that one needs to call on the resources within one’s self in order to face the challenges. This is easier for adults than young people, because young people are just entering a wider world which appears different than expected, and offering them little opportunity to take their place in the world. It is a time when the simple things should take center stage in one’s life like laughter, for without genuine heart-felt laughter all else seems bleak.
The ability to laugh at the silly things a child does, or a mistake that did not quite turn into a disaster all adds up to lightening the day, for genuine heart-felt laughter does more than make one feel happy just for a moment.
The mind has greater power over the body than vice verse – laughter opens up the blood vessels, while being miserable and stressed makes them constrict, reducing the blood flow. When one laughs the blood vessels expand! This in turn prevents thickening of the blood and supports the immune system by giving a better response to injury.
Laughter releases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine in the body, producing a sense of well-being thus reducing stress levels, reduces blood-sugar levels, increases oxygen in the body. In social terms, laughter has that domino effect, reduces inhibitions makes one less defensive and creates a more positive atmosphere. And it requires no training, and costs nothing!
Bosely, S. ‘A Third of Europeans are Suffering From a Mental Disorder in Any One Year’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/sep/05/third-europeans-mental-disorder
‘Laughter Has Positive Impact on Vascular Function’ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110828101806.htm