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Published on April 11, 2011

A Guide to Getting Through Tough Economic Times

April 11, 2011 

Economic turmoil (increased unemployment, foreclosures, loss of investments and other financial distress) can result in a whole host of negative health effects - both physical and mental. It can be particularly devastating to your emotional and mental well-being. Although each of us is affected differently by economic troubles, these problems can add tremendous stress, which in turn can substantially increase the risk for developing such problems as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Compulsive behaviors (over-eating, excessive gambling, spending, etc.)
  • Substance abuse

Warning Signs 
It is important to be aware of signs that financial problems may be adversely affecting your emotional or mental well being--or that of someone you care about. These signs include:

  • Persistent sadness/crying
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Lack of sleep/constant fatigue
  • Excessive irritability/anger
  • Increased drinking
  • Illicit drug use, including misuse of medications
  • Difficulty paying attention or staying focused
  • Apathy - not caring about things that are usually important to you
  • Not being able to function as well at work, school or home

Managing Stress 

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you are not alone. These are common reactions to stress, and there are coping techniques that you can use to help manage it. They include:

  • Trying to keep things in perspective - recognize the good aspects of life and retain hope for the future.
  • Strengthening connections with family and friends who can provide important emotional support.
  • Engaging in activities such as physical exercise, sports or hobbies that can relieve stress and anxiety.
  • Developing new employment skills that can provide a practical and highly effective means of coping and directly address financial difficulties.

Getting Help 

Even with these coping techniques, these problems can seem overwhelming and you may need additional help to get through "rough patches." Fortunately, there are many people and services that can provide help. These include:

  • Healthcare providers (link to find a doc page and KishHealth counselling in Sandwich)
  • Spiritual leaders
  • School counselors
  • Community health clinics

Specific help for financial hardship is also available, on issues such as:

  • Making home affordable
  • Foreclosure
  • Re-employment
  • Financial assistance

Source: Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (accessed February 21, 2011)

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