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Drought And Depression

July 19, 2012, 6:13 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Drought And Depression

Stress from this year's drought not only effects the land, but its taking a toll on people as well.

Our dry weather could cause farmers and ranchers to lose their livelihood. And that financial stress can lead to major health problems.

Scott VanderWal works on the family farm that his grandfather started in 1940. Through the decades, VanderWal has seen many ups and downs with farming thanks to Mother Nature.

"Generally we don't get this dry this early," VanderWal said.

The Volga-area farmer recently did receive some rain and his crops are better off than some others in KELOLAND.

"The thing is we're going downhill very quickly with the hot temperatures and windy days, and we need rain soon," VanderWal said. "We just keep the faith that it will rain eventually, and hopefully it will be in time to save the crop.”

But not all ranchers and farmers deal with the stress of wondering when the next rain is as well as VanderWal. In fact, the recent drought and dry weather can lead to depression.

"Financial pressure definitely has the ability to lead to depression and anxiety left unchecked," Avera Outpatient Clinical Therapist Angela Sadowski said.

Sadowski compares a farmer dealing with drought to people in other businesses losing their jobs, but it's often not as predictable.

"The weather is completely unpredictable, so that loss of control can feel very much like helplessness and can lead to hopelessness," Sadowski said.

Sadowski says some signs of depression include irritability, a change in habits, and not doing activities they enjoy. Many farmers though are reluctant to seek help.

"That Midwestern attitude of not seeking help can lead to serious consequences of drinking and abusing alcohol, turning to substances or suicide," Sadowski said.

"You have to work to avoid that kind of thing because it doesn't do any good. All it does is harm yourself, your family and your business," VanderWal said.

That is why VanderWal is keeping a positive attitude while looking to the sky.

"Everything we do relies on the weather. You just have to have faith that it's going to treat you right because there's not a thing you can do about it," VanderWal said.

Sadowski says if you're afraid someone you know is going through depression, you should talk to them about their problems. If they're really struggling, you should ask them to seek professional help.

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