Clinical depression has risen exponentially in recent years. The strained economy and the unemployment rate have levied a heavy toll on our nation’s psyche. Even those left with a job, a home and a retirement fund are left coping with the strain of long-term market forecasts, generally ranging from dark to dismal. Moreover, in many cases the extra workload caused by those already laid off increases workloads for the rest, who may find it increasingly difficult to ‘keep cool.’ But in general, anxiety serves only to propagate itself, dampen our capacity for focus, and increasingly drain the spirit of morale needed for recovery. Also, the increased stress on the individual may inevitably affect personal relationships as well, and by weakening the foundations of our outer social and family structures, we may also stand to further damage the state of our battered nation.
“Many patients are deeply affected by the current times,” explained Don LaGrone MD, member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. LaGrone, in addition to his private practice, donates time assisting local university studies; he is currently involved in a study of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its effect on our nation’s armed forces returning from various combat zones. He expressed concern over the actual conditions our forces face abroad and speculated that conditions are much worse than they appear. “Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan endure greater hardship than most of us think. The number who return with PTSD is staggering and the extent of protracted neurological effects may also be far worse than we are still able to assess. In all it seems mental illness may have invaded our nation on a worrisome scale, from the soldiers serving abroad to those on here at home serving on the frontlines of our nation's workforce,” LaGrone added.
Our capacity to look beyond the multiple crises occurring within our own border is limited. For many it’s even a challenge to prevent our financial strains from sowing conflicts within our personal and our social structures. Our tendency is often to project our worries and fears upon those we feel close to—loved ones and spouses for instance—arbitrary issues sparking arguments and counter-reactions and causing the threat of long-term damage.
In seeking solutions, we may wish to begin with basic measures, such as increasing communication with friends and spouses; often just verbally processing daily dilemmas heightens our insight on how best to solve them. Another coping method may be to increase our dose of daily exercise—perhaps maximizing its efficiency by hiring a personal trainer. This does not necessarily have to cost much, and the potential payback of a tailored exercise regimen, one optimizing stress relief and increasing stamina, could play a vital role; fitness experts not only maximize your efficiency at the gym but often also provide excellent diet suggestions and often know the essential nutritional supplements further to help strengthen endurance, increase focus, and boost your immune system. After all, who can afford to become sick?
Just as the cause of collective crisis may involve various factors, one may consider its resolution as a “team effort” of adjustments and changes.
But sometimes the common methods of mental restoration may still fall short of keeping our lives functioning through times of severe adversity. Our psyches are designed to store daily remnants of pressure in “mental containers.” In other words, we suppress what we cannot handle at the time for the sake of keeping center on our higher, more urgent priorities, and if all goes well we come back later and take care of the pieces we’ve stored—such as personal losses and disappointments we haven’t given time to grieve. At the time such losses occurred we may have been too busy saving our own structures and foundations from demise.
We all have our breaking points. And when the momentum of misfortune runs us over even before we read the daily headlines—which may reveal our one week vacation to the Gulf Coast resort has been rained-out by a flood of crude oil—we may then find that we’ve hit bottom. No more ‘cool.’ No more heat. No more energy or forecasts. Gloom has arrived and has set us still within. Even calling in sick to work and retreating to bed seems to cost a marathon of energy.
So now what?
First, it would seem best we fill the vacancy below by temporarily mending the crisis above—the flue-like loss of energy. At this point one may wish to seek the assistance of a psychiatrist, who may prevent the complete collapse of our outer structures—our family structure, our job structure, our social structure.
LaGrone explained how some patients may need only a period of rest—his most common prescription filled by the ink of his pen—a note to the employer instead of the pharmacy—while others may need additional “tools” in the form of medication. In our current times, patients often suffer clinical depression of a situational nature—such as losing a job, coping with divorce, or the death of a loved one.
Those who stay functioning in terms of their daily commitments and obligations, despite their mental breakdown, they are often able to recover without losing their jobs and personal structures. Medication may be part of the treatment, according to LaGrone, but is often only temporary when treating situational depression, though added medical breakthroughs have been made over the past two decades, offering new hope for those afflicted with depression.
All considered, the challenge of our times may include ridding ourselves of old stigmas and taboos regarding depression and the aid of medication.