The Situation of Depression
Posted by The Situationist Staff on September 29, 2010
From Gallup (09/28/10):
Residents of Gulf Coast-facing counties experienced a decline in their overall emotional health, as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Emotional Health Index, in the 15 weeks after the onset of the BP oil spill. Those living in inland counties in the same Gulf of Mexico states showed no such drops in emotional health in the oil spill’s aftermath.
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From The Associated Press:
A Gallup survey released Tuesday of almost 2,600 coastal residents showed that depression cases are up more than 25 percent since an explosion killed 11 people and unleashed a three-month gusher of crude into the Gulf in April that ruined many livelihoods. The conclusions were consistent with trends seen in smaller studies and witnessed by mental health workers.
People just aren’t as happy as they used to be despite palm trees and warm weather. A “well-being index” included in the Gallup study said many coastal residents are stressed out, worried and sad more often than people living inland, an indication that the spill’s emotional toll lingers even if most of the oil has vanished from view.
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The Gallup survey was conducted in 25 Gulf-front counties from Texas east to Florida over eight months before and after the spill, ending Aug. 6. People reported 25.6 percent more depression diagnoses after then spill than before it, although the study didn’t conclude the additional cases were tied directly to the oil.
The survey said people along the Gulf reported feeling sad, worried and stressed after the spill, while people living inland reported less over the same period. More than 40 percent of people in coastal areas reported feeling stress after the BP geyser blew, a 15 percent increase from before.
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[A]n earlier study conducted in 13 counties and parishes with a total population of 1.9 million showed that 13 percent of coastal adults from Louisiana to Florida suffered probable serious mental illnesses after the spill.
The level of mental illness was similar to that seen six months after Hurricane Katrina decimated the coast five years ago, and experts aren’t yet seeing any improvement in mental health five months after the oil crisis began. Before Katrina, a study by the National Institute of Mental Health said only 6 percent of area residents had likely mental illnesses.
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Steve Barrileaux, a psychologist at the Gulfport center, said some of the problems leading to mental health issues are obvious, like the loss of work by a person who rented chairs on the beach. Others are more subtle.
Many people are deeply worried about the environment, for instance, or lament the lost moments they would have spent fishing recreationally with loved ones. Others are still afraid to eat seafood, even on the coast where livelihoods depend on it.
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To read the article in its entirety, click here. For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “Some Situational Effects of the BP Gulf Disaster,” “The Situation of Mental Illness,” “Inequality and the Unequal Situation of Mental and Physical Health,” “The Situational Consequences of Uncertainty,” “The Disturbing Mental Health Situation of Returning Soldiers.”