Monday, October 13, 2008

Depression and the Economy

Can what you are feeling today be attributed to the U.S. economy? Are you feeling blue because of the Dow Jones numbers falling? Can your depression be attributed to the U.S. Presidential Elections and the negative politics between candidates?

Of course, the answer to the above questions is, yes. Multiple sources show that the heavy weight of just hearing about these major issues affects our general well being. Not only that, but the fact that many are being affected in more personal ways regarding their homes being foreclosed upon, their jobs being lost, their 401K depreciating in value, their pensions being lost, and on and on. If you are thriving in this economic crisis, making a profit on your home, getting an income raise, or otherwise flourishing, you are one of the lucky ones.

According to the Mayo Clinic symptoms of depression include:

Loss of interest in normal daily activities
Feeling sad or down
Feeling hopeless
Crying spells for no apparent reason
Problems sleeping
Trouble focusing or concentrating
Difficulty making decisions
Unintentional weight gain or loss
Being easily annoyed
Feeling fatigued or weak
Feeling worthless
Loss of interest in sex
Thoughts of suicide or suicidal behavior
Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

"Depression symptoms can vary greatly because different people experience depression in different ways. A 25-year-old man with depression may not have the same symptoms as a 70-year-old man, for instance. For some people, depression symptoms are so severe that it's obvious something isn't right. Others may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why."

What can you do to help yourself if you find that you have some of the symptoms of depression?

Obtain the right amount of sleep. Some people need 8-12 hours of sleep. Other people need only 6 hours of sleep. The most important thing is that you stay consistent in the time you go to bed and the time you wake up to keep your internal clock running correctly.

Seek appropriate and consistent exercise. Depending on your fitness level, exercise regularly and aerobically. A brisk walk outside will help your heart and your mind. You'll find that, by exercising regularly, you'll benefit your mind, your body, and possibly eventually even your pocketbook.

Avoid excess sugar and/or caffeine. These stimulants can cause you to "crash", or in other words, they can cause a "major downer" after you have the "high" from either of these two stimulants. has great advice regarding prevention of depression that we could all follow closely in these turbulent times. "However, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help. Friendship and social support, especially in times of crisis, can help you weather rough spells. In addition, treatment at the earliest sign of a problem can help prevent depression from worsening. Long-term maintenance treatment also may help prevent a relapse of depression symptoms."

Complications can occur from depression. "Depression is a serious illness that can take a terrible toll on individuals and families. Untreated, depression can lead to a downward spiral of disability, dependency and suicide. Depression can result in severe emotional, behavioral, health and even legal and financial problems that affect every area of your life. Complications that depression may cause or be associated with include:

Alcohol abuse
Substance abuse
Heart disease and other medical conditions
Work or school problems
Family conflicts
Relationship difficulties
Social isolation"

What can you do to cope with depression or with the signs of depression? "Coping with depression can be challenging. Depression makes it hard to engage in the behavior and activities that may help you feel better. Talk to your doctor or therapist about improving your coping skills, and consider these tips to cope with depression:

Simplify your life. Cut back on obligations when possible, and set reasonable schedules for goals.

Consider writing in a journal to express pain, anger, fear or other emotions.

Read reputable self-help books and consider talking about them to your doctor or therapist.

Don't become isolated. Try to participate in normal activities and get together with family or friends regularly.

Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet and getting sufficient sleep.

Join a support group for people with depression so that you can connect to others facing similar challenges.

Stay focused on your goals. Recovery from depression is an ongoing process. Stay motivated by keeping your recovery goals in mind. Remind yourself that you're responsible for managing your illness and working toward your goals.

Learn relaxation and stress management. Try such stress reduction techniques as meditation, yoga or tai chi.

Structure your time. Plan your day and activities. Try to stay organized. You may find it helpful to make a list of daily tasks.

Don't make important decisions when you're in the depths of depression, since you may not be thinking clearly."

You can become well again, even with the most severe forms of depression. If you feel that you cannot cope alone, please contact your physician for help.

Remember that these economic cycles are just that, cycles. The situation our economy is in at this moment will not be the situation a year from now. These cycles eventually have an upswing. So, change your outlook from doom-and-gloom to a visualization of a year from now when the outlook can be prosperous.


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