The aim of psychoanalysis is to relieve people of their neurotic unhappiness so that they can be normally unhappy.
-- Sigmund Freud, psychiatrist (1856 -1939)
In the psychiatric and counseling communities, they use a tool called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, better known as the DSM-IV. The manual, as explained by www.allpsych.com, is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and covers all mental health disorders, as well as listing known causes for each. Mental health professionals use this manual to help third-party payers (e.g., insurance providers) understand the needs of the patient and to get payment for the appropriate treatment. In layman’s terms, it covers everything from simple, short-term stress reactions to substance abuse, and mild depression to much more serious and debilitating disorders.
The APA is currently in the process of updating this “Mental Health Bible” for its fifth edition, and it is this editor’s opinion (as one with a psych background) that some new recession “disorders” will have to be added into the fold.
What was once post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can now be dubbed HR-PTSD, for human-resource personnel on the front lines of layoffs and staff cutbacks as well as for those who have been laid-off. Panic disorder with agoraphobia (PDWA) can now be referred to as 401K-PDWA, which is characterized by severe heart-pounding, sweat-inducing, never-leave-the-house-again panic attacks every time one decides to check on the current state of their retirement savings. And good old fashioned obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be reclassified as MSNBC/CNN/NPR OCD, best recognized by the uncontrollable need to watch news streams to find out what is happening with the recession; whether the Dow Jones is up or down; what President Obama is planning to do next; and how the bank, mortgage and job markets are every five minutes.
What is the treatment for such disorders, you ask? First, take a moment to close your eyes and breathe. Keep working with the tenacity you would during good economic times. Visualize the end of this and all the positive forward motion that will occur when the nation leaves this all behind us. Lastly, do something that you love to do to reduce stress. Something perhaps you stopped doing ong ago—yoga, running, cooking, painting, anything that puts you back in touch with a calmer, stress-reduced, relaxed you.