Mental Illness

Depression in the Recession

The last time I was unemployed was in the summer and fall of 2006.  When people use the term funemployment, well that’s what it was.  I relaxed, I read books, I went to yoga, I rode my bike.  I was stress-free.  I qualified for unemployment and food stamps, which covered my living expenses.  I wasn’t saving money, but I wasn’t going into debt either. My depression ““ which I have struggled with since I was 10 ““ was the best it had been in a year.   So when I quit my sinking ship job 6 months ago, I was looking forward to another few months of funemployment.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take into account that 2010 is a different economy than 2006.  The recession is hitting everyone hard, and my depression and I are no exception.  A 2009 study conducted for Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness in collaboration with the Depression is Real Coalition showed that unemployed people are four times more likely than employed people to experience symptoms of severe mental illness.  Those who have jobs but had to take a pay cut or reduced hours were twice more likely to experience symptoms of depression than those who did not experience job changes.

But what do you do if you know that you have depression, but because you have no job you have no health insurance to seek treatment? When I realized that unemployment was making me more depressed, I knew I needed to get back on medication. I sought out a study that I saw advertised on television that would provide me with anti-depressants for free and pay me to participate in the study.  However, I got tired of the time commitment involved with the study.  I then found a clinic in my area that provided sliding scale mental health services.   I am lucky though, that I live in a metropolitan area with a lot of resources available to me.  Those who live in rural areas or states with less mental health funding aren’t as fortunate here.

Another factor that I think influences depression during a recession is boredom and lack of purpose.  A big day for me is one in which I mop the floors AND do the laundry.  Your friends will continually recommend that you volunteer to at least stave of the boredom and have something to do.  Do it.  Or you could, you know, start a women’s blog.  Work on art projects, take up a craft that is inexpensive but gives you something to do.  Research budget cooking and find out how to cut your grocery bill while being creative in the kitchen.  Do anything that doesn’t involve watching 10 hours of daytime tv, because let’s be honest The View is going to depress anyone.

The other issue that I think influences depression during recession is the hopelessness.  I’ve sent out countless resumes and have barely heard back from any of the jobs I have applied for.  I have to keep doing it because you never know when something might turn up, but it is daunting to feel like you’re sending things out to the ether and you’re never going to hear back.  My tips?  Post here in the comments and commiserate with others who are in your situation.  They may not be able to get you a job, but at least when you send out your plea for sympathy you’ll hear back.  And that’s more than I can say for employers.

And, as they say, laughter is the best medicine.  This comic is about working from home, but also could be applied to being unemployed.

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