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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians 'Better Off' Than Brits Mentally

The country's top psychiatrist said Thursday that many more people are seeking psychological help amid the economic crisis but Russians are better prepared than Westerners for hard times because they survived the chaotic 1990s.

Tatyana Dmitriyeva, who heads the prestigious Serbsky Institute, said the number of people seeking psychological help, mainly for depression, has soared by 20 percent since the months before the crisis struck last fall.

"The main cause for depression among Russians is the loss of a job, even though many of them haven't lost their jobs yet," Dmitriyeva said at a news conference.

In contrast, Americans are mainly depressed about losing money, and Britons are depressed about losing their homes, Dmitriyeva said.

The Serbsky Institute's hot line is receiving 130 to 150 calls a day, while in noncrisis times the average was 30, she said.

Dmitriyeva said Russians are better suited to ride out the crisis than Americans and Western Europeans because the current problems are not as bad as they were in the 1990s.

"The Russian crisis in the '90s was economic, political, social and ideological," she said.

The current crisis, however, is much simpler, she said.

A new poll indicates that Russians feel more optimistic about the crisis than people in the West. The poll, released by state-run VTsIOM this week, found that 63 percent of Russians fear that the crisis will last a long time, while 76 percent of Americans and 81 percent of Britons share the same fear.

"Russia is being rescued by the fact that it hasn't risen from its knees to fall down again in the current circumstances," VTsIOM head Valery Fyodorov told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Still, the Serbsky Institute predicts that alcohol consumption will increase among Russians this year. Between 1990 and 1995, the period around the Soviet collapse, alcohol consumption shot up by 40 percent and resulted in many deaths as people drank low-quality drinks and home-brewed alcohol, the institute said.

Dmitriyeva cautioned that the suicide rate might also increase. Russia has the world's second-highest suicide rate, after Lithuania, according to figures from the World Health Organization.

She recommended that people fight depression by occupying themselves with physical activity and unpaid public service work. "These are the best antidepressants," she said.