How to Cope With Recession Stress

Resources to help deal with mental health problems caused by the recession.

ByABC News
April 22, 2009, 6:54 PM

April 22, 2009— -- With the economy in crisis, Americans are feeling tremendous anxiety. Reports on the apparent suicide of Freddie Mac's Chief Financial Officer underscore the toll the economic crisis is taking on many Americans.

In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 61 percent of Americans said the economy is causing stress in their lives; a third said the stress is "serious."

And those who said they've been hurt "a great deal" by the recession reported stress levels more than double those who said they were just "somewhat affected" by the recession.

"Everybody is feeling this -- either they're feeling it directly because they themselves have lost their job -- or there's threat of losing their home -- or they're worried about that happening," said Robin Kerner, a member of the deptartment of psychiatry at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in New York. "I don't think there's a household out there that isn't thinking about 'is my job secure? Is my house secure?'"

Experts on suicide say that mental illness or depression can be worsened by contributing factors like workplace stress, which when aggravated can lead to suicide.

"When someone is in a high impact job and they are depressed, they can't think clearly about a solution and they feel hopeless and helpless and this just makes them feel worse and makes them feel incompetent and unable to help solve the problems," said Dr. Paula Clayton, medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

"A Guide to Getting Through Tough Economic Times" helps identify warning signs of depression, ways to manage stress and get help. You can check out their Mental Health Services Locator to find medical professionals and resources available in your area or community.

"Simply patting someone on their back, giving a hug, going out of your way to bring dinner to a neighbor's house" are all ways to help ease the mounting pressure many feel, said Charles Raison, clinical director of the Mind-Body Program at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Check out the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's fact sheet on what to do if you fear someone may take their life. If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek immediate help. One valuable resource for those in crisis is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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