Current Economic Situation and its Psychological Impacts
The current economic situation in our country impacts us not only financially, but also psychologically. We all know it because we can feel it, but there are not-so-obvious pitfalls that can be avoided if you know what and where they are.
We can navigate through this period and come out the other side healthy and happy.
Job loss, of course, presents money problems, but here’s another predicament. People who’ve lost their jobs suddenly find themselves with a lot more time on their hands. If they liked to come home from work every day and have a drink, they now may feel that they can take a drink whenever they feel like it. And they do. Too much. Too often.
You can see how they came to think like that, really. They’ve lost the structure that work provided, and without that structure, drugs and alcohol can play a bigger part – they’ve got the time and they don’t have to show up somewhere sober or drug free. So, this is something to be guard against.
Even those people who don’t use drugs and alcohol can fall into harm’s way. If their work gave them a sense of identity, purpose and productivity, they may feel stripped of self-esteem, become depressed or anxious, and self medicate – something else to avoid.
Here’s another difficulty I’ve been noticing. Without money and the ability to buy the necessities of life, the glue that holds families together is lost. Out of necessity, one of the parents may feel he or she must move away from the family to follow a job offer. Or maybe the parents think that they should send the children to live with a relative who has a more stable situation, or where there is a better school. These all seem like very practical reasons to separate, but when the family is not together, cohesion is destroyed and the support they provide each other is gone. Family members feel lost, empty and alienated. This can be especially difficult for those who tend to overuse drugs or alcohol.
As a psychiatrist practicing in West Palm Beach for 20 years, I tell people to do everything possible to get up, get dressed, and make it your job to find work. Make a plan to keep busy and work at structuring every hour of every day as much as possible. Just doing that will force you into a routine, and that is very positive. This is especially important for people with alcohol or drug problems, and it will help them stay sober, because looking for work gives life meaning.
It goes without saying, although you are certainly experiencing hardships, don’t use drugs and alcohol, and do whatever you can to keep your family together.