As a nation, we are going through the hardest economic times since the great depression. We are seeing the unemployment rate head steadily for the 10% mark. We are seeing people lose their homes and filing for bankruptcy at alarming rates. It is quite difficult to go through such a traumatic event in history without being effected by the stress and uncertainty of the times that lie ahead.
It is no coincidence that we have seen an increase in suicide, substance abuse and depression. Recent studies suggest that there is a correlation between economic contraction and psychological disorders. Depression, suicide, substance abuse and anti social behavior are considered to be the most recognized disorders in relation to economic hardship.
Losing your employment, being underemployed or going on welfare can be extremely hard for anyone. It makes one question their viability and can do great damage to one’s self confidence and self esteem. It can not only put stress on the individual, but it can also effect the entire family. Mental disorders due to this kind of hardships often take a toll on relationships between spouses, parents and others. Data confirms that men are more psychologically effected by job loss than women. This construct of self identity by being the man of the house and providing for your family is often damaged by the realization of things beyond your immediate control.
More evidence suggest that those that have mental disorders often develop physical problems as well. For example, depression and other mental disorders have been connected to cardiovascular disease and stroke. The increase in alcoholism and drug abuse have also been connected to liver disease and specific kinds of cancer.
Many people can weather these hard times and become resilient and learn from the experience, but others can succumb to the stress and the pressures and become one of the cases we discussed.
The key to staying mentally healthy during these times, is accepting what happened, make the adjustments necessary to survive and build on the relationships around you, instead of tearing them down. Remaining optimistic has proven to be a valuable tool in overcoming challenges. Don’t beat yourself up, millions of Americans are in the same boat, the important thing is to stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Lastly, realize that some things are beyond your control and the honor is in doing the best you can.
Goldman-Mellor, S., Saxton, K., & Catalano, R. (2010). Economic contraction and mental health: A review of the evidence, 1990-2009. International Journal of Mental Health, 39(2), 6-31. doi:10.2753/IMH0020-7411390201.