How to Handle Economic Stress

July 18, 2008

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The economy has forced companies around the country to make cut-backs. and even lay-offs. As you can imagine, all of this can lead to stress for the average family. So, what can you do about it?

Admittedly, there  are times in history that were worse than these but for the current generation this is a bad as it gets.

Social worker Judy Johnson says people need to reach out for help. "One of the first things that most people need is somebody to talk to. Somebody who will understand and can give them information about how to go find help for whatever it is that's causing their distress."

Gasoline prices keep going up, and home foreclosures are common in some areas, while hundreds of thousand of people across the country are losing their jobs.

"People who have a lot of stress and stay stressed out without proper treatment learn behaviors that interfere with their relationships, can interfere with their ability to work, to keep a job, to get along with their family members."

To treat the stress, Johnson recommends seeking professional help especially when it changes your normal behavior.

"A lot of people tend to isolate and become reclusive and not talk very much. They may sleep a lot. They may stop eating. The reverse is they may not sleep very much at all and they stay up for days. They may eat everything in sight - just constantly eating,"  says Johnson.

And, she says when it really gets bad it causes destructive behavior.

"You see a lack of interest in things that they used to care a lot about. They'll stop going to church. They won't take care of their grooming or their hygiene. They'll ignore their pets."

According to Johnson, the suicides rates are up and mental health facilities are at capacity. That maybe another sign of the times.

And for those who are worried about the cost of professional help, Johnson advises going to an out-patient counseling service where payment is based on a sliding scale determined by your income.