Special Report: Depression in the Recession - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Depression in the Recession

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –    Many south Georgians continue to struggle to make ends meet.     Businesses are cutting back or closing altogether.

Workers are being furloughed or laid off, but their bills keep coming.  It's not easy to take.  How do you cope when you hit rock bottom financially?

It has happened over, and over, and over again. "Albany's lost a little over 4,000 jobs in the past two and a half years." Shane Williams said.

Like Cooper Tire which shut down and left town. The Marine Base and Proctor and Gamble have laid off hundreds of contract workers.

"When you lose big industries like that, home values go down, property values go down, you see more houses for sale, you see residential homes turn into rental property,"said Shane Williams.

And smaller businesses feel the effects of all those people and all their money leaving town, leading them to lay off workers as well.

Shane Williams just found out that he'll join the ranks of the unemployed within the next month. "I felt like I was going to be sick."

Out of a job, and more importantly, out of a pay check.  It's enough to make almost anyone depressed. "When I found out that my company was closing, I went through that.  You just wonder, what does this mean for my mortgage?  What does this mean for sending my children to daycare?"

Psychologist Cheryl Kaiser says she's seeing more people struggling with depression directly tied to money trouble. "People are having financial difficulties, a lot of people have been displaced from their jobs or they're worried about being displaced from their jobs, so it's kind of difficult to make ends meet."

Some turn to counseling, but not before doing a little research. "Before they make an appointment they ask extensive questions about how much services cost."

Putting money before their health.  Dr. Kaiser says she tries to give her clients the coping skills they need to deal with their money woes. "Increase their ways of managing the problem, for example, they might have some assistance by talking to consumer credit counseling to get some assistance from that perspective, contacting some of their creditors to get some of that perspective."

Because like most problems, debts won't go away simply by ignoring them. "At least it gives them something to go on to be able to take control of a situation where they feel out of control," said Kaiser.

Somewhere else people are turning to help them cope is the church.  "It has been an amazing opportunity for our church to reach out to those people in times of need," said Carrie Austin, Associate Pastor, First United Methodist Church.

A need that is so great. "You certainly see more crises within families, people who struggle with where do I turn?  An increase in strife within marriages, increase in alcohol abuse and drug abuse and increase in depression and those sort of things."

Most people are looking for a quick fix so they can take care of their families immediately, and the church does what it can to help. "We try our best to give them not only the financial help they need, but also the spiritual help they need to help a family refocus from things, to the one thing that can make that difference in their lives," Austin said.

Church is where Shane Williams first turned, but not after losing his job.  He did it well in advance.  Two years ago, he and his wife went through Financial Peace University at their church.  They were big time in debt, without big salaries to match.

 "We would not have been able to go one month without two paychecks," said Williams. But the course taught them how to prioritize expenses and pay off every debt they had other than their home loan.

"We paid off a little over $31,000 in 14 months." And now, the news that he's losing his job is still upsetting, but it's not unmanageable.

"This is not the end of our lives.  We still have so much going for us." said Williams.

But for those who are out of work, or low on work, with what seems like never ending bills, it may seem like there is too much burden to bare.

"'Cause it's tied to our access to our basic needs.  If we can't get our basic needs met and we don't know where to turn, we can get very desperate," said Kaiser.

And when there's no financial peace, and support from church just isn't enough, it's time to consider real treatment.

"Whenever someone is in a situation where they feel so depressed and desperate that they feel like suicide is even an option, even if they're thinking about it, they immediately need to proceed to the nearest Emergency room or contact the nearest licensed provider to get some assistance and find out what they can do," said Kaiser.

Learning how to cope financially and mentally.  Overcoming depression in this recession. If you find yourself depressed with thoughts of suicide, you should get help immediately.   Go to the emergency room, dial 911, or find the nearest licensed therapist.    

If you need help getting your finances in order, Financial Peace University has classes going on around South Georgia.

 

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