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Canadians among top antidepressant users. Did recession play a role?

These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.

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Antidepressants on rise
A new study indicates the use of antidepressant drugs is widespread among Canadians, suggesting a global surge may be linked in part to the financial crisis.

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Canada holds the No. 3 spot in the report released today by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, topped only by Iceland and Australia, and followed by Denmark and Sweden to round out the top five.

Portugal, Britain, Finland, Belgium and Spain come next.

The Health at a Glance 2013 study looks at consumption in 2011, measured by the "defined daily dose" for every 1,000 people.

It shows a marked increase globally, citing several possible reasons, including "greater intensity and duration" of treatments, use for milder forms of depression, and changes in the "social acceptability and willingness" to seek help.

"Some of the increases in the use of antidepressants may also be linked to the insecurity created by the economic crisis," the OECD report adds, citing hard-hit economies such as Spain and Portugal, countries at the heart of the euro debt crisis that are struggling under high levels of unemployment.

Still, use of antidepressants rose even faster in Germany, for example, which wasn't hit nearly as hard.

Iceland, of course, was the poster child for the meltdown.

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Canada rebounded far more quickly than many other countries from the crisis and recession, though unemployment still hovers at about 7 per cent, with more than 1.3 million people out of work and insecurity still an issue.

"Almost six years since the start of the global financial and economic crisis, economic conditions vary widely across OECD countries, with the United States, Canada and Japan on a path to recovery, while the economic prospects of many European countries remain subdued," the report adds.

"After a period in which, as part of the stimulus packages, greater resources were channelled to welfare and social protection programs, the shift towards restoring sound fiscal conditions has often implied substantial cuts in public spending. Like other government programs, health care has been the target of spending cuts in many OECD countries."

Gildan profit climbs
Shareholders of Gildan Activewear Inc. can thank lower cotton costs for helping to drive the company to record fourth-quarter results and a higher dividend.

As The Globe and Mail's Bertrand Marotte reports, the Montreal-based maker of T-shirts, underwear and socks boosted its dividend by 20 per cent, to $0.108, as it posted a jump in profit to $96.8-million or 79 cents a share, from $89-million or 73 cents a year earlier.

Sales jumped to $626.2-million from $561.7-million, the company crediting strong growth and lower cotton prices.

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Gildan also projected fiscal 2014 sales of $2.35-billion, up from $2.184-billion; and earnings per share of $3 to $3.10, also up from the previous range.

Bank of Japan holds the line
Japan's central bank cited a modest economic rebound both inside and outside its borders as it made no changes to policy today, continuing on with a huge stimulus program.

"Japan's economy has been recovering moderately," the Bank of Japan said in its statement.

"Overseas economies as a whole are picking up moderately, although a lackluster performance is partly seen. In this situation, exports have generally been picking up."

Japan is fighting a long bout of deflation, and trying to juice its economy under the program known as "Abenomics" for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More

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