Night falls on the Capitol on the eve of a government shutdown in Washington, D.C.
(Photo: Michael Reynolds, EPA)
ATLANTA -- Thousands of people are stuck at home out of work, out of a paycheck and feeling out of control of their life.
It's taking a psychological toll. "Shutdown stress" manifests in emotional and physical symptoms and can cause depression.
The two chief complaints are feeling worried about the future and sudden isolation during the workday, but it's important to remember to hold on to hope and let go of what you can't control.
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"It really helps for people to stay focused on the present and not think too far down the road. Connecting with the community support can be a really helpful thing to do at this time," said Dr. Wendy Dickinson of GROW Counseling
Kim Hummel has been on furlough. She is trying to pick up on old writing project to fill the time but it's hard to focus. Not working is not working for her.
"It's just the uncertainty. It's not knowing how long this will last. If we were told at the beginning you will be out of work for 17 days, then we can prepare for that both financially and emotionally and what we're going to do with our time," Hummel said.
She says the days pass, often unproductive. Her support system at the CDC is disconnected. There are money worries and dinners of peanut butter sandwiches to save. She's not sure when she'll be paid again or if retro-pay will be approved.
"I am assuming that we will not be paid and then if we are I will be pleasantly surprised," she said.
In short, nothing is certain.
"I think that feeling of being in control is gone. And then you start thinking long term, what if this happens again?" Hummel said.
She's not the only one. Dickinson reports a 30 percent increase in clients seeking therapy because of the government shutdown.
"Some of the things we are recommending is that they focus on what they can change but that they stay positive about everything else. It really helps for people to stay focused on the present and not think too far down the road," she said.
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