Thursday, February 12, 2009

Economy triggering depression, anxiety

n his stirring inauguration speech, President Barack Obama urged Americans to choose hope over fear.

While Obama's election clearly has given some people a lift, rhetoric alone isn't comforting those hit hardest by the country's economic downturn.

As people lose jobs or watch their retirement savings dry up, some local psychiatrists say they are seeing an increasing number of new patients with depression or anxiety, and that the symptoms of some current patients have worsened.

Beyond that, these doctors say, many who need treatment aren't receiving it because they cannot pay, having lost their jobs or their insurance.

Psychiatrist Bhawani Ballamudi, who practices at Dean Clinic East, said she is seeing a lot of depression.

"They just lost their job and have a family to feed, and they are trying to figure out how to do that, and that has caused a lot of stress," she said.

According to a Jan. 31 story in the New York Times, cries for help have increased nationwide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline reported a 36 percent jump in calls over the last year, to 545,851 from 402,167. Richard McKeon, a psychologist and federal public health expert, said crisis centers were reporting "a significant increase in the number of people who are giving economic reasons" for calling, whether it is "the loss of a job, loss of a home, or fear of that."


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