Mental Health and the Great Recession

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, Nov 19, 2010.

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  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    [link=http://www.cnbc.com/id/40257359]Nearly 1 in 5 Americans had mental illness in 2009[/link]

    Newsflash: being unemployed makes people depressed. Worrying about money makes people depressed. Being depressed drives people to substance abuse and suicide.

    It would be interesting to quantify the health care costs of recession. "Only 64 percent of adults aged 18 or older with major depression were treated last year, compared with 71 percent a year ago." So, we're not seeing boom times for the mental health sector, since although people more depressed, they're less able to afford professional help.

    Maybe instead of sending people stimulus checks, the Fed should send every American a free supply of anti-depressants.

    By the way, for anyone who knows more than I do about public health; why is this - "The survey also found that 23.8 percent of women had some form of mental illness, compared with 15.6 percent of men."

    Is this typical of the difference in mental illness between women and men? I can think of a few possible reasons. Women are culturally more disposed to talking about their moods and mental life? Since they are often the managers of households, they experience more of the direct financial stress of difficult economic times? They are more genetically predisposed to mental illness than men? Their mental problems often get expressed as eating disorders, which are more likely to be noticed and diagnosed? Just a few guesses.

  2. darthdrago Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2003
    star 4
    Well, post-partum depression is common among women, but I don't know if that's considered to be mental illness, if it has to do with the body's natural shift in hormones after a (presumably ideal) birth.


    There's also another question: the issue whether the medical industry is diagnosing more "mental illness" because of its ties to Big Pharma. Seems to me that doctors these days have a hair-trigger when it comes to prescribing anti-depressants to their patients.
  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    It seems like half the people I know have been on anti-depressants at one point or another, to the point that I sometimes get very jealous. All I have is some leftover Atavan and a suitcase full of oxycodone (PM me if you can help me calculate the street value) from my dad's cancer treatment.

    And the ADHD epidemic among children and now even adults seems to a very large extent to be a scam.

    But back to the topic, I'm really thinking a huge economic downturn might be a source of anxiety and unhappiness. Should we be calling it mental illness? Probably, if it leads to an increased suicide rate.
  4. Lowbacca_1977 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I've never been comfortable with how society deals with mental health, in large part as too much of it feels like a scam. Everything needs a pill really makes it tough to tell what is a legitimate issue and what isn't.
  5. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6
    The problem is that mental health tends to exist in shades of grey. Other health issues generally don't work like that: you either have the flu or you don't, your arm is broken or it isn't, and you're generally either putting on an unhealthy amount of weight or you're not. Mental health? Not so much. It's hard to draw the line where you stop sucking it up and start getting help.
  6. Espaldapalabras Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2005
    star 5
    When I was in 4th grade, my teacher forced every boy in the class to be tested for ADHD. The doctor wondered in amazement because I was about as opposite of a kid with ADD as you could get and still be a little boy. Apparently ADHD rates go up as you go east across the country. In severe cases there might be something to it, but they've turned normal behavior for boys and turned it into a disorder.

    As far as mental health goes, yes the human mind is something much more complex, but I think there is a too great of tendency to try and treat everything with medication and a lack of understanding that one whose brain is sick should not be viewed any differently than one who has cancer or a failed liver.

    And many people don't think we should provide government supported mental health services, but then you never know what problems and crimes those left untreated will commit. So there is a tendency not to want to support mental health programs because it is viewed as socialism, but then when something goes wrong they blame the family and supports left behind for being inadequate.
  7. firesaber Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2006
    star 3
    Within the last two years my family and I have been put through hell with the economy, the loss of one of our incomes (hers) and trying to make ends meet and the debt piling up. It can definately steer you to some very deep dark places if you dont have a strong support network.

    Depression, anxiety etc are part of our normal emotional make up. I'm not qualified to decide what warrants treatment but I do sometimes get the impression that while there are genuine disorders, some may fall back on it as a crutch.
  8. Darth-Seldon Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 17, 2003
    star 6
    The major mental health challenge is not being caused by unemployment depression but rather the problems experienced by so many of the combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. As they return home from their tour of duty--to many of them are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, the psychological scars of war and addictions to pain medications. Far too many of them are being left untreated which is resulting in record suicides. Many of them end up on the criminal dockets in court where their pill addiction or violence (which increases domestic violence rates) lands them in court. We need a better response to this and a far smoother transition for those heroes who served this country and are now being left behind.
  9. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    With Iraq and Afghanistan the incredible improvements in battlefield medicine have meant that people who've received awful, mind-numbingly grotesque physical wounds are still surviving. So we have numbers of physically disabled veterans orders of magnitude larger than the numbers killed, and I'm quite sure that the numbers with severe mental consequences are much larger even than that.

    I wouldn't discount the mental effects of financial hardship. Financial hardship is a leading cause of divorce for example. And divorce I'm sure is a significant cause of depression.

    NPR ran a piece today about the mental health consequences of the gulf oil spill - e.g. the increased divorce and depression rates among out of work shrimpers. The connection in general between unemployment/underemployment and depression is I'm sure obvious. When you consider the underemployed and the discouraged workers not counted in the basic unemployment rate, you're talking about huge numbers of people at increased risk of depression through all the things related to financial hardship that cause severe unhappiness.

    Everyone's different. Not everyone who is unhappy needs medical treatment for it. The whole grieving process in the U.S. has changed dramatically in my lifetime. I know so many people who have gone on anti depressants because of the death of a loved one, but really, this is a process that nearly everyone who lives a full life is going to have to go through. Handing out drugs for normal life cycle unhappiness is a sign of the society we've become - it seems like the mental health equivalent of a facelift or botox injection. Or that stupid drug for increasing the length of eyelashes.
  10. darthdrago Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 2003
    star 4
    There was a Gulf fisherman who committed suicide--I want to say back in July--due to the aborted fishing season. He was married, and he might have had children as well, but I can't remember for certain if that was true. At the time that was the only suicide I remember hearing reported in the media. Haven't heard much about it since, so I don't know how or if his family was taken care of thru insurance or BP restitution. But it's probably reasonable to assume that his surviving family will put in a wrongful death lawsuit against BP.

    We might have to wait until the following fishing season before we hear about reliable stats of how many people have been newly diagnosed with depression as a result of the Gulf's economy taking a hit from the spill. It's possible that this holiday season could exacerbate the stress of those already reeling from the double blow of the economy & the spill...
  11. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    The holidays in general are a bad time for people suffering from mental illness. If people are lonely and depressed, they may be even more so over the holidays. For women with eating disorders, holiday food and family dynamics provoke all kinds of crises. It's always a boom time for therapists.
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