Battling the Great Depression

Depression and anxiety are understandably on the rise. Although, admittedly it is not yet clear there is a statistical link between suicides and the financial downturn.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

An out -of -work money manager in California loses a fortune and wipes out his family in a murder-suicide. A 90 year old Ohio woman shoots herself in the chest as authorities arrive to evict her from the modest house she called home for 38 years. A record 500,000 homeowners have entered the foreclosure process. That trend is expected to continue through next year despite current government and lending industry programs.

I could go on and on listing the tragedies resulting from our current economic crisis. Depression and anxiety are understandably on the rise. Although, admittedly it is not yet clear there is a statistical link between suicides and the financial downturn since there is generally a two year lag in national suicide figures. But, historically, suicides increase in times of economic hardship, and the current financial crisis is already being called the worst since the Great Depression.

It's more important than ever to be able to recognize the signs of depression.

Warning Signs of Depression:
  • Mood Changes-including feeling sad, irritable, becoming easily angered or having difficulty getting along with friends and family members
  • Loss of Interest-in hobbies, sports, or social activities (avoiding friends and family)
  • Lack of Enjoyment- even when involved in an activity you once enjoyed
  • Changes in Sleep- difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep, or desire to "sleep all the time" to escape reality
  • Changes in Appetite- gaining OR losing weight in a discreet period of time
  • Changes in Energy Levels- such as feeling "tired all the time", restlessness or agitation
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Self-Criticism-feeling like a failure or that "it's all my fault" even when not your responsibility
  • Unexplained Physical Pain-headaches, abdominal pain, back and neck pain, muscle tension

It's important to understand that depression is a very real and serious issue. Some depression passes with time. Other cases may require intervention. In any case, the depressed person needs to feel safe enough to talk about his/her feelings even when they are difficult to put into words. Keeping their fears and feelings a secret is not helpful to those that feel depressed. The depressed person already feels "like a loser" and doesn't want to hear your judgment about why they shouldn't feel depressed.

Ways to help someone who is depressed:

Offer to listen without judgment- don't wait for them to come to you if you suspect depression, because usually they won't

Encourage them to talk about it-if the depression is long lasting (more than a couple of weeks) they may be withholding their true feelings. Blocked feelings lead to a "deadening" of our emotions

Look for the anger- In some cases, depression is "anger turned inward". Sometimes resolving the issue causing the anger restores emotional balance.

Eat healthy and consistently

Exercise consistently - even if it feels like a Herculean task. Endorphins are your friend!

Keep to a regular sleep schedule-no matter what.

Volunteer- donate your time to a worthy cause, preferably something you feel passionate about. It's harder to sit in our own misery when we are actively helping someone else. Try it, it works!

And last but certainly not least, talk to a professional. This is what we therapists we can give you the empathy and skills you need to get your life back on track. Why feel miserable for another minute?