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January 2011



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First Published Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Rising Waters

As the economic outlook becomes gloomier and gloomier and the credit crunch bites even harder, experts at the Priory Group, one of Europe’s leading independent providers of acute mental health service, are warning that they are seeing an increasing number of patients suffering from the symptoms of ‘recession depression’.

People facing unemployment, mounting debts and losing their homes can be overwhelmed by negative feelings and this can manifest itself in a serious depressive episode. This is very different to the normal, brief periods of feeling down that everyone suffers occasionally in response to circumstances in their day-to-day lives.

Dr Jeremy Broadhead, Medical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist at The Priory Hayes Grove, identifies a number of symptoms to look out for which indicate a depressive episode:

  • *Low mood for most of the day, nearly every day. Things always seem ‘black’.
  • *Loss of enjoyment and interest in life, even for activities that you normally enjoy.
  • *Abnormal sadness, often with weepiness.
  • *Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or uselessness.
  • *Poor motivation. Even simple tasks seem difficult.
  • *Poor concentration. It may be difficult to read, work, etc.
  • *Sleeping problems.
  • *Lacking in energy and extreme feelings of tiredness.
  • *Difficulty with affection, including going off sex.
  • *Poor appetite and weight loss or the reverse with comfort eating.
  • *Irritability, agitation, or restlessness.
  • *Physical symptoms such as headaches, palpitations, chest pains.
  • *Recurrent thoughts of death.

Dr Broadhead said: “The current financial crisis is almost certainly having a significant impact on mental health, particularly the issues of unemployment and debt. Money worries don’t just keep people awake at night; they can cause stress, depression and in more extreme cases self harm and suicidal thoughts. At a time when people across the country are anxious about their jobs and their finances, recession-depression is a real and growing concern.

Depression can be a disabling and potentially serious condition but it can be treated through medication and therapy. Psychological treatments for depression are many and varied. They range from the emotional support provided by the regular opportunity to talk about feelings to a professional, right through to specialised forms of psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

At a time when depression is striking more and more people it is important that the medical profession acts quickly to identify and treat the illness, allowing the sufferer to regain the positivity in their lives and tackle the issues which caused the problems initially.

Job Losses in Recent Recessions

Maintaining your mental health in tough economic times

To help millions of Americans deal with the stress created by the tough economic times, Mental Health America is recommending strategies to help people feel better and protect their mental health.

One recent poll reported that nearly 60 percent of respondents said the current economic situation is a cause of stress in their lives. And one-quarter indicated that anxiety is serious.

This is a terribly challenging time for many people,” said David L. Shern, PhD, president and CEO of Mental Health America. “But there are things people can do to take care of themselves during stressful times such as leaning on the people who care about them and focusing on the positives in life.

Here are some simple steps people can take to protect their mental health:

Take a problem solving approach:
Sit down and list your problems and some possible solutions. Weigh pros and cons, and once you have some possible solutions, break them into manageable chunks. This process not only can produce concrete answers, but offers a sense of organization and control at a time that may feel chaotic and confusing.
Shift your thinking:
Review the skills and strengths that have helped you rise to challenges in the past. You can rely on those abilities again now. Try not to blame yourself for matters that may not have been in your control.
Get support:
You may feel like you don’t want to worry your loved ones. But chances are they want to help. You can just enjoy each other’s company or, if you’re in a relationship, work with your partner to solve financial problems together instead of isolating yourself and struggling alone.
Focus on positive aspects of your life:
Sure you have worries, but you are likely to have a lot to be grateful for. Thinking about those positives-or writing them down-can boost your mood.
Take good care of yourself:
Exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep and taking time to relax are essential. You’ll be able to cope better with stress and take care of those who depend on you if you find even a few minutes each day to refuel. Beware of turning to alcohol to relax. It may seem to offer a release but actually puts more stress on your body and can drag down your mood.
Watch for signs of excessive stress:
Be aware of irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches, stomach pain and fatigue. You might also see if you’ve developed some unhealthy behaviors, like repeatedly checking the economic news that mostly feed your fears.
Get professional help if you need it:
Some people feel it’s a sign of weakness to see a mental health professional, but it can be a sign of great strength to take the steps necessary to get your life back on track.

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