Recession Depression• Recession depression is a new form of depression that islinked to the current financial state of the world. With a recession, the uncertainty of job security and financial securitycan cause an increased level of stress, anxiety and depression relatedsymptoms. The current economic recession has left many American workers feelingchronically fearful, anxious and stressed about their jobs and financialfutures. Constant stress, however, can wear you down, leaving youprone to depression. Foreclosures, substance abuse, family battles and – worst of all –widespread depression that some experts say has reached startlingproportions since the recession. According to nearly all published lists of depression causes, stressrelated change in the life is in the top three causes of depression. Therecession is a stress related life change.
Recession Depression: The Event• Like many other forms of depression, recession depression is linkedto an external event. The feelings are often relaxed or intensified bychanges in that event.• Having a new baby, for instance, can cause a deeper depressionwhen the time for the babys arrival approaches than when the babywas first announced.• With a recession that ebbs and flows down a different path hourly,the strain on the mental state can be difficult to control.
Dire Statistics• With an estimated three-quarters of the 14 million unemployedAmericans out of work for more than six months and fully half out ofwork for more than two years, many jobless Americans are falling intodespair as repeated attempts to find work come up short.• About 9 percent of Americans were defined as clinically depressed indata released last year 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention in Atlanta, compared to an estimated 6.6 percent in data collectedin 2001 and 2002.• According to 2011 data collected mental illness costs society about $193billion a year in lost earnings from absenteeism• According to the latest research from Financial Literacy Partners, employeesspend an average of 20 hours per month financially distracted on-the-job, costing employers $7,000 per-employee/per-year in lost productivity
The Environment: Unemployment• As President Obama and Republican leaders argue over the bestway to reduce 9.1 percent unemployment and revive a near-flatlining economy, less attention has been paid to the widespreademotional and psychological damage caused by long-termunemployment — and the drain it has on government resources andworkforce productivity.• Many of these unemployed Americans cannot afford to seekprofessional help because they lost their employee provided healthinsurance with their jobs. At the same time, federal, state and localgovernments have cut back on spending for mental health clinicsand outreach in response to budget crises spawned by the badeconomy.
Study: Long Term Unemployed• A recently released, comprehensive study of the long-term unemployed byRutgers University’s John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Developmentfound that 32 percent were experiencing a good deal of stress and another47 percent said they had some stress associated with their joblessness.Moreover, at least 11 percent reported seeking professional help fordepression in the past year. One in two of the respondents in the two-year national study said theyhave avoided friends and associates, largely out of a sense of shameand embarrassment — a self-imposed isolation that hurt their ability tonetwork to find employment.
The Environment: Mental HealthIt could get even worse if Medicaid funding of mental health servicesis put on the chopping block as a congressional “” super committee”hunts for spending cuts to help reduce the federal budget deficit.Medicaid is the main source of funding of public mental healthservices for young people and adults, accounting for nearly half ofstate mental health budgets according to the National Alliance onMental Illness.The nation faces “a silent mental health epidemic,” according toCarl Van Horn, a professor of public policy and economics at Rutgersand head of the Heldrich Center.Losing a job is more than just a financial crisis for people,” Van Hornsaid. “It creates numerous other damage, stress, anxiety, substanceabuse, fights and conflicts in the family and feelings of embarrassmentand depression.”
Typical Scenarios• You’re 45, 50 years old, you’ve worked hard for the past 25 years,and all of the sudden you’re on the street, or your friends disappearlike unemployment is a disease they can catch,” said Joel Sarfati,the executive director of 40Plus of Greater Washington, anorganization that brings together unemployed middle agedprofessionals for job training, resume building and much neededmoral support. “As this thing gets more drawn out, we see more andmore people fall into a deep funk or dark place.”
Case Scenario: Family BusinessOne case in point is Mark, a 62-year-old printing professional andprivate business owner says he hasn’t slept through the night oncesince the printing company he inherited from his father 40 years ago Five months later, Mark continues to look for work at a printing company but accepts that hemay never find another job in the industry he has worked in for nearly 40 years. “It’s sad. It’sunnerving, and I’m not quite sure how to handle everything,” he said. Mark had always been the breadwinner in his family, his wife has not worked in 20 years hisdwindling savings account helps them keep up with their mortgage and health-carepayments, with little left over at the end of each month. In addition he has two kids incollege. He has applied for retail sales associate jobs at places such as Best Buy and Sears, but hehasn’t heard back. “I realize now that it’s a reality that no matter what I do, I won’t have whatI had before and will have to take a tremendous pay cut if I’m lucky enough to get any job,and that’s depressing. . . . I’ve never felt that way before.”
Case Scenario: High Paid ExecutiveA 55-year-old former Internet technology executive named Jeff was financialservice company lost his $300,000-a-year job three years ago. He said hewasn’t worried at first because he was confident he could land a contract to tiehim over until he found another full-time job. However, he began to panic whennothing came through. The economy kept flattening and the competition for thefew available jobs grew fierce. “It was very, very bumpy,” he recalled recently.“There were some very depressing periods in there. I’ve never felt such afeeling of hopelessness. You think you did something wrong – it’s my fault.You’re going to live in a dumpster.” He sold their yacht and second home in Naples. His wife is in denial and continues to lead a lifestyle they can no longer afford. Shecontinues is embarrassed, cannot tell her friends at the country club what is happening andcontinues to drum up high credit card balances. Jeff and his wife are constantly arguing and have spoken of separation
Case Scenario: TatjanaThe organization has helped Tatjana, a market research professionalwho was laid off two years ago, to position herself for a career shiftfrom the private sector to the nonprofit development world workingwith wildlife and environmental causes. The 40Plus group arecruitment support organization, has also helped to mend herwounded psyche after a grueling year-and-a-half of job huntingreaped more rejection than she was prepared to handle.Employers told me I was ‘overqualified,’ meaning I was too old,” saidthe 52-year-old. “But I’m too young to retire, I’m ready to work, yet I’mbeing treated like I’m over the hill. That was extremely jarring and verydemoralizing, and for a while there, I was definitely skirtingdepression.”
Study: Suicide and Business CyclesThe overall suicide rate rises and falls in connection withthe economy, according to a Centers for Disease Controland Prevention study released in 2011 by the AmericanJournal of Public Health.The study, “Impact of Business Cycles on the U.S.Suicide Rates, 1928–2011″ is the first to examine therelationships between age-specific suicide rates andbusiness cycles.o This study found the strongest association between businesscycles and suicide among men in prime working ages, 25-64years old.
Suicide and Business Cycles• Recession depression is not something to handle withoutsome sort of intervention either from a family member,loved one or professional.• The average suicide rate is 10 people per 100,000 ayear. In 1929, that number rose to 14 suicides per100,000 people. The number rose again in 1933, theheart of the Great Depression, to 17 suicides per100,000 people in 2011.• While many doctors believe suicide is linked to a mentalcondition present before the time of stress, the recentincrease in suicides highlights the effect of recessiondepression.
Recession Depression Triggers Evidence identifies employment status as the mostimportant predictor of psychological distress.Unemployment was associated with an increased risk ofsuicide and death from undetermined causes. United States statistics link suicidal behaviour with areasof disadvantage. Low education, personality characteristics, use ofsleeping pills or tranquilizers, and serious or long-lasting illness tended to strengthen the associationbetween unemployment and early mortality. The National Suicide Research Foundation (2008) drawsattention to the association of unemployment with a twoto three–fold increased risk of suicide among men.
Men- Vulnerable Population• Difficulties in communicating problems is most evidentamong all men (employed and unemployed).• Men are less likely than women to engage inpreventative measures in relation to their mental health• Interviews and Focus Groups with Men indicated:– Impact of unemployment on self confidence– Mainstream services; negative experiences andfurther impacts on self-esteem
A New Reality• No one person can change the current financial strength of acountry. The recession will continue until the United States andmany westernized countries dig out of the financial hole.• Individuals may need to accept a new reality around their living andwork situation• Our beliefs about working hard and moving ahead are no longerapplicable.• Rediscover core values and began to place relationships andexperiences above material things.• People are moving from scared to prepared: Changing theirspending and saving habits
Recession Depression: Financial Stress• Whenever dealing with recession depression it is important to talkwith someone about the feelings they are currently dealing with.• The effect of financial stress can be one of the most difficult to dealwith alone• ‘Psychologists and therapists can help people focus on the morepositive aspects of life and finances and work through the problemscontributing to the recession depression.• When someone is suffering from recession depression, the onlychange that will help is a change to the current financial situation athome and an increase in the feeling of job security.
Be Aware of SymptomsAccording to University of Alabama at Birmingham Associate Professor JoshKlapow, Ph.D. you can support your clients by first recognizing symptoms:A chronic feeling of helplessness. This is due to the realization that our beliefs about working hard andmoving ahead are no longer applicable.A sense of shame. We may believe we should have known what was coming and betterprepare ourselves for it. For those of us who lost jobs and savings, the sense of shame stemsfrom not being able to support ourselves and our families; having to relyon family and friends for help; having to sell our homes, downsize andchange our life styles.
Be Aware of Symptoms A feeling of betrayal. This is similar to what children feel when theirparents, rather than taking care of them as they should, making them feelsafe and protected, betray and hurt them. As those children, we feelunprotected, no longer trusting our "leaders" to have our best interests atheart. Consequently, we are scared and alone. A declining self-confidence. Even though we may know there isnt muchwe could have done differently, we may tend to teake things personally. A loss of self-identity. For most adults, our jobs and professions are themain sources of identity. We are what we do - electricians, plumbers,farmers, teachers - and when we can no longer do that, we feel like fish outof water.
Somatic Problems• Evidence demonstrates links between unemploymentand poor physical health. Any one of the following cluster of symptoms/diagnosesmay lead to somatic problems such as insomnia, digestiveproblems, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure,back problems, Shingles, Prostatitis, chronic headaches,lack of energy and inability to concentrate and makedecisions. Higher mortality in the case of pre- existing illness ordisability.
Mental/Emotional Impact• In addition to depression and suicide as earlier noted,marital dissolution, addictive behaviours includingalcohol misuse and cybersex addiction may surface Social supports and a more even distribution of wealthmay be greater contributors to good health.
Therapy Options:Combat Depression in Hard Economic Times• There is a range of options available to combat depression during thesehard economic times.• Determine whether the depressed individual is suitable for psychological, or"talking," therapies.
Medication Therapy• People with depression have whats called a negative cognitive filter, whichdistorts all of their thoughts and perception of reality. Essentially, all the negatives are magnified and there is an exaggeratedsense of low self-worth, whereas positives are ignored or twisted intonegatives. As such, individuals may benefit from antidepressant medications,prior to psychological therapies and counseling, to remove this cognitivefilter.
CounselingThe simplest form of treatment is counseling.• This involves education about depression, as well as therecession.• It is important to emphasize that recessions havehappened in the past, and they tend to recover, thusproviding hope for the future.• Education on depression should emphasize thatdepression can be treated.• Advice can also be sought in conjunction with a financialadvisor or other expert as well.•
Counseling/Problem SolvingCounseling may also involve some problem-solving.For example, if the client is struggling to payoff a large debt becauseof the economic downturn, then the therapist and client worktogether to:(1) Define the problem - how much is the debt?(2) Devise ways to solve the problem - could he/she cutback in otherareas? Should another loan be taken out?(3) Test each of the solutions(4) Review the outcomes of each solution(5) Continue steps 2 - 5 until a solution is reached
Cognitive Behavior Therapy-CBT• The next level of therapy, and the mainstay of depression treatment, iscognitive behavior therapy (CBT).• This is more intense than counseling, involving 2 to 3 sessions per week fora few months, and involves a well-trained therapist, usually a psychiatrist.CBT starts off similarly to counseling, with education.
Suggested InterventionsInterventions to reduce stress, rebuild hope and foster a feeling ofbeing more in control1. Take charge/action, set goals and work at achieving them Taking good care of one’s physical and *mental health. Taking a good look at our diet /decide what we need to change to make it healthier. Set up an exercise regime and stick to it Work in the garden Fix a problem ignored Reconnect with a friend you were too busy to stay in touch with. Whatever one chooses to do, the focus should be on a feeling a sense ofachievement and purpose by keeping busy and productive.* Worry - falls into two categories: "unproductive" and "productive."Unproductive worry is worry about things that you cannot control.Productive worry, on the other hand, is worry about what you can control.Use productive worry to motivate and take action to improve a situation rather than dwelling on what cant change.
Suggested Interventions2. Stay focused on the present and avoid looking too far into the future.– We project into the future how we feel in the present.– Live in the moment– When we are not in a good place, the future looks much more ominous andscary, so whats the point of looking at it?3. Set limits on media intake. The media thrives on bad news. It keeps eyes on the TV screen and boostsratings. It also contributes to stress level /affects one’s outlook on the world. Change channels if watching something intensive or anxiety provokingespecially as it gets closer to bedtime. Watch something positive and uplifting. A good nights sleep is important in keeping one depression-free and functioningat best.
Suggested Interventions6. Avoid looking at the past. What was is gone. Thinking about it will make us sad or mad, and we may already be sad or mad.7. Reorganize our priorities and eliminate that which one can dowithout, focusing primarily on what is relevant.8. Create good emotional connections. It’s easier to get through tough times with someone by our side than doing it allalone.9. Practice gratitude. There is always something to give thanks for, even when it seems like the worldis falling apart around you. Do you still have a roof over your head? Your health?Enough food to eat? Look for something, no matter how small, that you can express your gratitudefor. Feelings of gratitude can have a powerful effect on your mood
Suggested Interventions10. Take Care of Yourself Take time to take care of all aspects, mind, body and soul. Practice good self-care and relieve stress Do a relaxing breathing exercise Dont be afraid to ask for emotional support from friends and family. If you are notready to take this step, however, Internet forums are a great way get supportanonymously. Practice good sleep habits. Adequate rest is important in controlling stress andpreventing depression.Wellness Helps ConquerRecession Depression
Suggested Interventions11. Be kind to yourself.11. Rather than beating yourself up over your perceived shortcomings,acknowledge that you are doing the best you can and forgive yourself.12. Avoid dwelling on the negative.11. Our thoughts are powerful.12. We can actually talk ourselves into feeling depressed, simply by choosing tofocus on the negative.13. Become aware of your negative thoughts and redirect your thinking in a morepositive direction.13. Thank yourself for taking steps to improve your situation No matter big or small those steps may be As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu famously said, "A journey of a thousandmiles begins with a single step."