If recession has you anxious, you’re not alone

  • Thu May 27th, 2010 11:59am

For the SCBJ

EDMONDS — In the last year, Snohomish County’s unemployment rate has remained above nine percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, more and more people may be experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety due to continuing tough economic times.

“During times of economic transition — the loss of a job and coping with financial stress — mental health concerns typically increase,” says Victoria Harris, MD, director of mental health services at Stevens Hospital in Edmonds. “People who are already coping with a mental health disorder may stop taking their medications because their health is no longer the top financial priority for them or they may misuse their medications. And those who previously had not been diagnosed with mental illness may begin to experience mental health disorder symptoms.”

Stevens Hospital is the only inpatient mental health facility in Snohomish County with 24-hour psychiatric services for adults. The hospital also offers its Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), which provides intensive psychiatric treatment in a convenient, outpatient setting for adult patients.

“Part of the purpose of the PHP is to diagnose mental health disorders early, to help prevent inpatient hospitalizations,” Harris said. “And because it’s an outpatient program, we can work with a client to create a treatment plan that accommodates their schedule, including a work schedule. Even those who are employed can experience depression or anxiety because they may be concerned about losing their job, they’re working longer hours with more stress, or they’re generally unhappy with their occupation.”

PHP treatment plans are individualized and can include group and/or family counseling. The Stevens PHP treatment team includes psychiatrists, registered nurses, licensed mental health counselors, occupational therapists and social workers. The average PHP treatment duration is between five and 15 days.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults experiences a mental health disorder in a given year and of those, less than one-third will receive treatment. Signs that the economy and financial difficulties may be affecting someone’s emotional or mental well being include:

Persistent sadness, crying

Excessive anxiety

Lack of sleep, constant fatigue

Irritability, anger

Increased alcohol consumption

Illicit drug use including misuse of medications

Difficulty paying attention

Apathy — no longer caring about things that are usually important

In 2009, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration created a first-of-its-kind online resource to provide advice and hope for people dealing with emotional health issues related to financial stress and the economy. The Getting Through Tough Economic Times online guide is available at www.samhsa.gov/economy.

For more information about PHP and the mental health services of Stevens Hospital, call 425-640-4090. Crisis counseling is also available by calling the Snohomish County crisis line at 425-258-4357.