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Learning Center Experience
By Dr. Howard
Chusid, Adjunct Faculty of Kaplan University’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
financial crisis is having a very local affect—it is driving many hardworking
individuals into a deep financial depression as they are forced to deal with
the consequences of suddenly not having enough money to live. Many people who
were previously successful and respected in their communities and families find
they may be suffering from acute depression as they struggle to adjust to their
new financial circumstances. This article is about financial depression and
what we can do for ourselves and loved ones when it strikes.
when someone is suddenly without the means to support his or her family? How does
this person avoid reacting to the new situation in ways that will not bring
about more harmful results?
A period of
withdrawal may follow the sudden loss of a person’s capacity to support his or
her family. The individual, knowing they cannot pay the bills, avoids them. The
unopened bills pile up in a corner or are hidden from sight and stored in a bag
in the garage.
bills are not being paid, the administration of the family’s finances also
suffers a blow as the individual stops entering details into the checkbook,
never wanting to know exactly how much money remains in the account. Under this
scenario, when the occasional bill does get paid it is never certain whether
the check will bounce or be covered.
avoidance of reality, driven by a need to adjust to a new and radical reality,
is a form of depression. It is crucial to recognize this not only because it is
the first step to recovery, but also because it influences the way family and
friends interact with the afflicted.
According to the DSM-IV, the mental health clinician’s guide to diagnosis, major
depressive disorder (or depression) is present when a person experiences five
or more of the following symptoms for most of the day, nearly every day, for at
least 2 weeks. The prevailing symptoms include:
it. With the current economic crisis, so many of us just take a look at our
bills and become sad and irritable. We begin to argue with our spouses and
children over seemingly petty matters. We feel that our situation is hopeless
and become apathetic. We develop low self-esteem and mourn the loss of all our
previous accomplishments. We lose our will to succeed, in essence giving up,
which in turn makes us feel even worse. Adding to the danger, studies have
linked depression stemming from poor economic conditions to a number of
diseases and an increased risk of suicide.
when we feel stress we tend to try to diminish our depression with alcohol,
drugs, or reckless behavior. Our feelings of hopelessness lead to poor
decisions and uncontrolled spending, since there is no money to pay for basic
most disturbing result of financial depression is that we lose all that made us
unique. As people watch the cumulative results of all their efforts go up in
smoke and they are left without the financial stability or respect of their
prior efforts, they lose more than their homes and cars—they lose their
self-respect. And with it goes all that made that person special as he or she
coils up inside him- or herself, afraid to face what they perceive as awaiting
to the pressure, and thereby intensifying the depression, may be outside
influences such as credit collection agencies. Their tactics only serve to
compound the problem because they are unaware or unconcerned with the well-being
of the person to whom they are speaking. They only want their money and will
use coercion, threats, and harassment to get it.
problems embarrass us, which only adds to our depression as we feel shame
before our spouse, children, and friends. Some people respond by panicking and
others by trying to play it cool. But many will still struggle with what to do
or how to reduce their intense feelings of sadness.
a leading South Florida psychologist, people suffering from financial
depression can lessen their feelings of sadness by doing or not doing some
seemingly simple tasks.
REDUCING FINANCIAL DEPRESSION
These activities are recommended for
people seeking to reduce their anxiety about financial matters:
While many of these
suggestions are useful, many may also seem impractical for someone already deep
in depression. For example, the idea of creating a coping strategy sounds
reasonable but the emotional tools as well as the financial confidence to do so
may be lacking. In essence, the suggestion calls for the inflicted person to
find a way to cope when in fact the problem afflicting them is that they are
unable to cope. This seems like a circular solution and could in fact lead to
higher levels of frustration.
Similarly, a suggestion to
someone they get a second job when they lost their only job and in an
environment where jobs are hard to come by may seem disingenuous. So too, the
suggestion of a home equity line of credit when the banks are not giving loans
eliminates any hope of bank assistance.
Nobody likes to hear
impractical solutions for their most pressing problems. This said, while every
solution listed above may not fit every person suffering from financial
depression, certainly some of the solutions can offer some degree of direction
The most important thing
is to continuously try to improve your situation. The danger with depression is
that it can make us apathetic and a lack of action leads to a compounding of
the crisis—which in turn worsens the depression. We must always be trying to
improve our lot. In addition to the hints above, some additional steps you can
Search for Jobs Outside Your Field
Instead of looking for a
job in your field, look at what jobs are available. Use the Internet and visit
AOL, Yahoo, Craigslist, Monster, Careerbuilder, and others. See what is out
there. It may not be your dream job but it could help get you through this
For instance, Florida is
currently one of the worst places to get a job, so moving to a state that has
more industry and ahealthier
economy may presentmore
opportunities. If your whole family can’t move, you may consider relocating
alone and sending the money back home. Sometimes people do many unthinkable
things to financially survive, and at this juncture many people are just
looking to survive.
Explore a Change in Career
Many of us believe we are
too old or too experienced in one field to consider moving to another. But if
your profession is experiencing a drop in demand and you know of other skill
sets that have more stable demand, learning a new skill may be a wise thing to
consider. It is true that this may not alleviate your immediate pressure, but
it will give you hope and lessen your depression as you see you are taking
constructive steps to ensure your future.
Don’t Give Up the Things That Bring You Joy
If you like movies or
books, go to the library and borrow some. The library also has CDs if you like
listening to music. If you enjoy television, watch the shows you like. Take
walks in the park where you can think a bit and find some peace. Allow yourself
to laugh and enjoy. Your situation may be difficult, but you’re entitled to
One thing we often do when
we are ashamed is withdraw from the people closest to us, including family and
friends. Be certain to call friends and meet with them. There is no need to be
alone, and their company can serve as support. Share with your friends what is
troubling you and allow them to comfort and encourage you. Sometimes by talking
about problems we get them out of our system a bit and feel a little better.
Additionally, a review of
your spending habits may be in order and you may find places you can cut your
costs. For example, many of us are in the habit of eating many or most of our
meals in restaurants. Some of us have premium cable channels. And sometimes we
buy items that are not essential. By reviewing where you spend your money and
determining how you can spend less, you may be able to alleviate some of the
Depression can be akin to
a de-motivator. As sad as you may feel, you need to try to get out and start
networking. Start meeting people, because it is one of the best ways to find
employment. Review your contact listings and see who may be seeking someone
with your skills. Don’t confine your search to your local area, but look
nationally. Use whatever contacts and/or skills you have and don’t be
All the words in the world
can’t make you feel better about your situation, only you can. The best advice
that one can give is: never give up and be willing to give anything a try. It isn’t
easy, but it is a start and it can bring some much needed funds into the house.
Who knows where it will lead?
Howard Chusid, EdD, LMHC, NCC is a
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Board Certified
Professional Counselor. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator,
Circuit Civil Mediator, Elder Care Mediator, Collaborative Divorce Professional, Parenting
Coordinator, and a Qualified Arbitrator.
Additionally, he is a founding partner in the
Family Law Cooperative. The Family Law Cooperative is a
group of caring professionals who offer a cooperative/collaborative approach to divorce
and other family disputes. The Family Law Cooperative guides couples through
the confusing and emotionally charged divorce process in an atmosphere of
mutual respect and dignity. Team members include Florida Supreme Court
certified family mediators, mental health experts, children's therapists,
parenting coordinators, financial planners, and accountants to provide clients with
the support services to navigate the complex issues such as: parenting and
timesharing plans, child support agreements; marital settlement agreements;
marital asset valuations, divisions of assets and debt; spousal support, and
post dissolution matters.
For more information visit http://www.familylawcooperative.com/.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of
the author(s) and are not attributable to Kaplan University. This is not
designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis,
opinion, treatment or services. If you need medical advice,
diagnosis, or treatment, please see a physician.
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