Recession Depression

As the global economy has struggled many are facing financial hardship, mounting debts, unemployment, and lower salaries which can be quite overwhelming and cause us to feel anxious and stressed.

Depression has been closely linked to on-going financial hardship. Anxiety, depression and stress are rapidly increasing due to the recession. This has resulted in the term ‘recession depression,’ a real and growing concern.

The impact of job uncertainty, recession and lower pay depends on the individuals coping strategies, support network, gender, age and health.  Employees who are faced with uncertainty in their job are more likely to deal with mental illness than those in employment.

Over time, stress and anxiety can really take its toll.  Worry, fear, hostility, aggression, sorrow, depression, loneliness are among the emotional responses to financial difficulties and in more extreme cases, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Health, emotional functioning, self-confidence and self-esteem can be affected. We can lose sleep, Family relationships can deteriorate.  If depression is left untreated an individual’s ability to find work can be affected.  Job insecurity and unemployment are also linked to an increase in alcohol and drug consumption. Suicide rates are also said to increase.

Personal coping strategies, practical help and emotional support received from family, friends and services can determine how an individual is affected by unemployment and job insecurity.  Talking to family and friends can really help.

Talking to a trained professional can provide a stable and supportive relationship that can help to ease emotional distress and provide emotional support.  It can help an individual to work through depression, stress and anxiety and find a better way to understand and manage it.   It can look at ways to expand and improve an individual’s social relationships, problem solving skills and can help many clients deal with stressors in a direct, constructive, and proactive manner.

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Jennifer Foran is a counsellor and psychotherapist at AnneLeigh Counselling and Psychotherapy, Naas and Celbridge, Co Kildare.

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Relationships: Are we Responsible for the Feelings of Others?

We expect those in our closest relationships, our family and our friends, to care about us and how we feel. But do we have a right to expect that they will be responsible for our feelings? And what does that mean?

Amethyst is expecting her first child. Her husband, Tom, likes to play darts in the pub with his buddies. Amethyst doesn’t play and since her pregnancy, the smell of beer makes her sick so she stays home. She feels lonely when he heads off twice a week. Her hormones have her feeling weepy and nauseous a lot of the time. Tom is feeling the strain in the marriage and is glad to get out for a while.

Amethyst is confused. When Tom was laid up with a broken leg for six weeks, she stayed home in the evenings to be with him. She is hurt and disappointed because he isn’t doing the same for her. Tom is irritated by Amethyst’s request to him to forgo his darts, and points out that if he HAS to stay home, he’ll feel resentful. Amethyst doesn’t want him to feel resentful, she wants him to want to stay home and be with her, and he doesn’t.

Underlying this relationship issue is the assumption that we are each responsible for how other people feel and should adjust our behaviour accordingly. In giving over that responsibility to someone else, we handing over control over own happiness, because if the other person is unable or unwilling to behave in a way that pleases us, then we are going to be disappointed.

No one can be there all the time for another person. Even if they are willing to forgo their own desires or wishes in order to fulfil the needs of the other, there will always come a time when they cannot be there because something else takes their attention away, work, children, their own illness or the illness of a relative, and so on.

Perhaps a better solution might be to find happiness within themselves, regardless of the behaviour and actions of others. Of course it’s lovely when other people behave in a way that pleases us, but perhaps we could see that as a gift they are free to give, rather than our right or entitlement?

Jude Fay MIAHIP is a counsellor and psychotherapist at AnneLeigh Counselling Psychotherapy, Celbridge and Naas, Co Kildare, Ireland. Jude works with individuals and couples aged 18 years and over.

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Got The Holiday Blues?

Do you enjoy Christmas? It can be such a wonderful time, when many take time out from work to be with family and friends. It’s a time for children, with the magic of Santa Claus such a huge event in their year. It’s a time of year when relationships are moved onto a new footing; engagements, weddings, old hurts forgiven and bridges built.

It can also be a painful time, evoking memories of Christmas past, shared with loved ones who are no longer around. For others, it can be a time that highlights their loneliness. For those who may be struggling financially, Christmas can be a fearful time. Parent may worry about making it a special time for the little ones, and fears that they may be disappointed.

There is so much advice about how to make the most of the season, from food to presents and decorations. And it’s all directed towards doing it better. The message seems to be, if you’re not enjoying this, you must be doing it wrong.

Perhaps the solution is to be honest about what makes us happy and live from that place, rather than from what we think others might expect of us. If the glitz and the partying rocks your boat, then go for it. But if it leaves you with a Christmas hangover of regret and exhaustion, then maybe it’s time to rethink. After all, it’s your Christmas too.

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Jude Fay is a psychotherapist at AnneLeigh Counselling and Psychotherapy, Celbridge and Naas, Co Kildare, Ireland

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Acceptance as the Key to Change

Often we see things about ourselves that we don’t like, and try to change, correct or improve them. Sometimes, we have learned growing up that our behaviour, looks or manner won’t be acceptable to others. We may have decided it was safer to hide that part of ourselves.

Everybody has aspects of themselves that they don’t like. We try to control how others respond to us, by changing who we are. However, we cannot change ourselves by rejecting those aspects we don’t like. Until we accept that we may never change, change is not possible. We have to start from where we are.

Acceptance is not the same as resignation, nor is it the same as surrender. In both these cases the energy is negative and closed. There is a turning away from that part of ourselves. In acceptance, there is an embracing of the situation, and we hold the hope of who we want to be.

Jude Fay MIAHIP is a counsellor and psychotherapist at AnneLeigh Counselling and Psychotherapy, Celbridge and Naas, Co Kildare, Ireland

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Dealing With Difficult Feelings

Sometimes strong feelings can well up, and it can seem that they might take over, leaving us finding it difficult to function in our lives. If this happens to you, there are many things you can do to help yourself.

Remember that everything changes over time, this will help the feelings to pass.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Eat well and get adequate rest. Try meditation or relaxation.If you have work to do, do it. Keep in contact with family and friends. It helps to talk.

Take some exercise walking briskly, or running.  If you’re feeling very angry, it can help to hit something, a ball or a cushion, while  saying out loud what you’re feeling.

Ground yourself by breathing into the feeling. Feel your feet  on the ground. Remind yourself of the day, date and time.

Try not to blame others for your thoughts or feelings. Our feelings are always our own response to a  situation.

There can be three voices or directions within us at any time, and it’s useful to distinguish between them:

  • The child (wanting to act out of the feelings, and blame others),
  • The parent (concerned with shoulds and oughts), and
  • The adult (able to see more than one perspective, responsible for self).

Express your feelings through writing in a journal or using art materials.

If strong feelings persist, then consider talking to a professional. Remember that there is always more to us than our struggles, although we may forget this at times.

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Jude Fay is a counsellor and Psychotherapist at AnneLeigh Counselling and Psychotherapy, Celbridge and Naas, Co Kildare, Ireland

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Feeling Stuck? Ten Tips (Part Two)

6.    “GIVE SHOULD, OUGHT AND MUST” THE  BOOT: Often the story we tell ourselves about how things “should be” can keep us stuck where we are.There is no right way of being. Ask yourself this question: Should…according to who?
7.    REPLACE A BAD HABIT WITH A GOOD ONE: Habit serves us well, imagine how it would be to drive if we had to consciously think through each step, each time. If we don’t create good habits, we will unconsciously create bad ones. Think about the habits you have (we all have them) and decide to replace one that doesn’t serve you with one that does.
8.    BE OPEN TO LEARNING SOMETHING NEW: Decide to open yourself to learning something new. It might be a skill, hobby or language. Question your views and ask if there’s another way of seeing the situation.
9.    GRATITUDE: Be grateful for what you have. It might not be everything you want, but by opening ourselves to seeing the gifts and blessings we already have, we make ourselves receptive to receiving more.
10.    DON’T STAY STUCK IN EXCUSES: For example, there’s something you’d like to buy, but you don’t have the money. You could decide you are going to buy it, and then look at where the money might come from. Replacing “Why I can’t” with “How I can” helps us to move into a more active, creative and dynamic place.

Jude Fay is a Psychotherapist with AnneLeigh Counselling and Psychotherapy, Celbridge and Naas

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Feeling Stuck? Ten Tips (Part One )

  1. IMAGINATION:  Use your imagination in a positive way. How would I like this situation to work out? Create a vision of the life you would like to have, or the person you would like to be. Imagine what it would feel like, and try not to focus on the disappointment you might feel if it doesn’t work out for you as soon as you might like.
  2. MAKE A DECISION: In general, any decision is better than no decision, as it gives the feeling of moving forward. If it turns out to be the wrong one, we can change direction further down the road, with the learning we will have gained in the meantime.
  3. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: Taking responsibility for ourselves and for our results in life allows us to move into our own power. Even when it appears that the other person was totally at fault, we are responsible for our reactions and our feelings. Taking responsibility is not the same as blaming ourselves.
  4. MAKE A GOAL: Making a goal helps us to focus on what we want in our lives, and puts us in control.  It might be a small one, to take more exercise, to eat healthy food, get more sleep or read a book.
  5. BE OPEN TO THE SILVER LINING: It’s not just an old wives tale, every cloud does have a silver lining. In every change, there is a letting go, and a making space for something new. A period of difficulty is often the forerunner to a period of personal growth.
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Don’t Panic

“I think I’m losing my mind,” the woman said. “My body seems to be out of control. I feel shaky, I’m sweating, I can’t breathe, and even though I want to run out of the place, I can’t move my legs.”

Panic Attacks affect many people of both sexes, all ages and from every background. They can come on without warning at any time, and the impact can leave those who experience them afraid to leave their homes, for fear they’ll strike again. They can vary in their severity and in the symptoms, but commonly include some of the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Racing or thumping heart,
  • Discomfort or pain in the chest
  • Sensations of choking or smothering
  • Wobbly or unsteady legs, dizziness or faintness
  • Tingling numbness or pins and needles in the arms or legs
  • Blurring or double vision
  • A queasy knot in the stomach, or a desire to vomit
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Waves of heat or cold passing over the body, or profuse sweating
  • Fear of dying
  • A fear of losing control or of going crazy

Not every one experiences all of these. Check with your doctor to ensure that there’s no other underlying reason for what you’re experiencing.

The symptoms of panic can last for between five and twenty minutes, though there can also be a feeling of anxiety for some time before and after the attack itself. Some people experience them frequently, while others have one or two and then never experience them again.

The following can be helpful in learning to manage and control panic:

  • Breathing: Probably more than anything else you do, breathing slowly, calmly and deeply lessens the panic feelings.
  • Meditation: Meditation and other similar practices can help you to still the thoughts that spiral out of control before, during and after a panic attack.
  • Learning your own symptoms, and to recognise what triggers an attack for you, and the signs of onset of an attack, can help you to learn to interrupt the process before it escalates out of control.
  • If you have severe symptoms, or if taking action yourself hasn’t resulted in any improvement of your symptoms, you may wish to seek professional help.

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Note: If you are suffering from panic, or are experiencing some of the symptoms outlined above, check with your doctor for a formal diagnosis before taking any action.


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Two People

Princess Diana caught the hearts of many when she said, “There were three people in this marriage from the start.” Anyone who had ever lived with someone whose attention was focussed elsewhere was able to relate to the comment.

It can be difficult for some couples to recognise that there are two people in their relationship. Sometimes, it can seem that there’s a third party, or there’s only one person who matters. And sometimes, the partners don’t see each other as people at all.

In “Why God is Laughing,” Deepak Chopra suggests that many difficulties in relationships are caused by us taking up a position where we are right and the other person is wrong, and that the solution is to let go of the need to be right. Holding out that we are right assumes that we know everything there is to know about a situation and the other people in our lives and that things are how they are and cannot change.

Letting go of the need to be right is another way of taking responsibility for ourselves. It affords us an opportunity to see ourselves and others as we really are, and not just the image or illusion that we present to the world. We may see our partner as strong and capable of looking after us, and in buying into that, we ignore their frailties and vulnerability, and ignore too our own strengths. We may be afraid of our partner’s anger, and fail to see the fear behind it. We may see our partner as controlling and ignore our own power and freedom to choose for ourselves.

When we are willing to let go of how we see ourselves and others, and the illusions and assumptions we make about them, we make space for seeing something different. We make space for them to grow into something different, and for ourselves to be all of who we are.

There are two people in the relationship. Underneath the illusions, there are two people trying to find happiness, two people trying to have their needs met. And two people who have felt fear and sadness and alone.

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Relationship Contracts

In every relationship and in every interaction of every relationship there is a contract. Sometimes the terms of the contract are explicit, sometimes they are not. Whether made clear or not, each party brings to the relationship their idea of what the terms of the contract are.

Most personal relationships develop organically, and each may expect that the other is operating according to the same terms, although they may not be. It’s often in what has not been expressed, and in which the partners have different expectations, that conflicts occur.

We learn to relate in our earliest relationships, and we carry with us into every later relationship, the imprint of what we learnt before we had the language or understanding to filter it. Everything will be shaped by that imprint: how we see others, how we relate about money, about sex, about security, and about every aspect of our lives.

So what might be in our contract? We may be offering our love, our caring, our support. We may be bringing our intellect, our interests and our skills. We may be willing to offer our loyalty, our companionship, our intimacy, and our friendship.

And what do we expect in return? Do we expect others to bring the same things? Or do we expect them to fill the gaps we might have?

Only by looking at what our unwritten contracts might be saying, can we really begin to understand what is being negotiated between us in our relationships.

Jude Fay is a counsellor and psychotherapist at AnneLeigh Counselling and Psychotherapy, Naas and Celbridge, Co Kildare.

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