Unemployment may trigger depression

By Diane Smith | REcord Publishing Published:

Losing your job can be depressing enough. But sometimes, unemployment can be the trigger that lets people know it's time to seek help for a deeper problem.

"I think depressing is becoming very common," said Karen Fleming, director of adult counseling at Coleman Professional Services. "We do see a lot of people for whom a huge stressor is being unemployed."

While the tension affects women as well as men, she said, men tend to identify more with being a "breadwinner" and tend to become depressed when that role is temporarily taken away.

But if unemployment is an issue for clients, Coleman does what it can to help the person find a job.

Ken Penix, director of vocational and employment services at Coleman, said the agency has resources to help people find employment, such as vocational counseling.

"Finding a job is tied with recovery," he said. "Our intention is to help people work so they can become taxpayers and avail themselves of all life has to offer them.

Clients are referred to the VRP3 program, which stands for Vocational Rehabilitation Public and Private Partnership.

The program, funded through a partnership with the Mental Health and Recovery Board, provides vocational counseling, resume skills and other services that help people gain employment.

Fleming said it is important for people who are facing a difficult life circumstance to know the difference between temporary, situational depression and clinical depression, which may require medication and counseling.

"I think we can feel depressed because of life circumstances," she said. However, she said, other times, people may be suffering from "adjustment disorder" and find it hard to adjust to changes in their lives, or may have clinical depression.

Symptoms include sudden changes in weight, sleeplessness or excessive sleep, and suicidal ideation.

Coleman offers free depression screening events from time to time, but people can schedule an assessment any time by calling Coleman at 330-673-1347.

Rob Young, clinical services director at Townhall II, said many people who are unemployed may tend to use alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, especially if they have a tendency toward substance abuse to begin with. Boredom associated with unemployment also can become a "relapse trigger," he said.

Some people, he said, may self medicate with alcohol because it may act like an antidepressant in some people. Even though alcohol is technically a depressant, he said, it can have the opposite of the intent, in the same way antidepressants trigger depression in some people.

He said low income people may be drawn to counseling offered at Townhall II because a partnership with the Mental Health and Recovery Board helps provide services to people who lack insurance.

"We do not turn anyone away," Young said.

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