Monday, May 4, 2009

Depression During The Recession

Yet another suicide related to job loss in the paper today...

This is certainly a time of mass depression as so many of us are dealing with losses related to the recession. A good book to help you comprehend the phenomena of loss is, "On Death and Dying" by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. This timeless textbook classic outlines the five stages of grieving a loss: 1) Shock 2) Anger 3) Bargaining 4) Depression 5) Acceptance. Kubler-Ross proposes that these stages are not necessarily experienced in a linear fashion but more like a spiral effect.

People seem to get stuck in the depression described as stage 4 of 5 in Kubler-Ross' grieving cycle. For most, it is situational-related and is referred to by the mental health field as Dysthymia. This is a "lighter" form of depression and is easily overcome by comparison to Clinical Depression. Treatment intervention for this condition can be done without resorting to anti-depressants. Simply talking to a trusted friend about your problems will decrease Dysthymia. Most important thing to do is to watch for negative thinking or "stinkn' thinking". No matter how tough your life may be right now, trying to stay positive is your best bet for getting you through the low feelings.

I once listen to a preacher describe ways people cope with stress. He talked about a continuum, with problem solving in the middle, suicide at one end and homicide at the other. It seems there are an alarming number of people resorting to the extremes of this coping continuum. Hopefully it just seems that way because the media tends to over report drama. Whatever the case, sustaining a tough time is what people need to do. As painful as the situation may be, it can be an opportunity to look inward and find out what one's about. Viktor Frankl's book "Man's Search For Meaning" talks about his experiences in a concentration camp. He came to the conclusion that humans are searching for meaning and purpose in life; not happiness.

I also read elsewhere that a study done on depression shows there can be some merit to it, at least in small doses. Apparently people suffering from depression tend to be far more introspective and make better decisions then "happy" people. I suppose this makes sense because I know I am far more diligent about researching the stock market these days before I make an investment. On a more serious note, if you or someone you know continues to feel depressed, please get professional help.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Fear Factor Of The Recession

Yes, indeed, most Americans are feeling the harsh effects of a recession.  The bubble has truly burst and reality is hitting us hard.  One common response I see is one of fear.  This is different then anxiety although certainly fear and anxiety go hand in hand. 

A fear response puts the body into a fright or flight mode.  To be operating on this level can be harmful.  As many of us know, we release a higher level of cortisol when we are in this alarm state.  Too much cortisol plays havoc on our sleep habits, our nervous system, our concentration, our ability to perform, our state of mind, and certainly our bodies.

Understandably, in financial times like this, many folks cut back on their expenses.  My concern, is when these cutbacks include wellness related items such as a gym membership, vitamins, a monthly massage, or whatever you do take care of yourself... Certainly, it's possible to spend less money and still lead a healthy lifestyle.  

I encourage anyone who is experiencing a lot of fear around their finances, to talk about it with a trusted individual or a professional.  It's important to sort out what is rational and what is irrational thinking.  Being in a fear mode often elicits irrational thinking.  Get a handle on your emotions before you make any big changes.  Create a plan of action based on logic, not emotion.  Making decisions based on fear usually is a bad idea.  This may be a good time to ask for some support from a family member or a friend.  Whatever you do, don't despair.  Our country has afforded us many opportunities and riches even during the toughest times.  Resources abound.  So does the generosity and good faith of many.

Hopefully many people will find decent ways to cope with this recession.  If history is any indication, Americans have an reputation for being a hardy, if not, stubborn bunch.  Winston Churchill once said, "When in Hell, keep going!"