A slumped economy. Swine flu. Lots of rainy days. It isn't necessarily the best of times right now and thousands of Americans and lots of locals are beginning to deal with anxiety and depression. Men, in particular, are feeling the economic stress more than their female counterparts with 81 percent of males saying they are very stressed where money and work are concerned.

Even though it is 2009, people still have trouble admitting they may be suffering from anxiety and/or depression. The old "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" school of thought is easier said than done and may actually impede someone's recovery as he or she adds the guilt of not being able to help themselves with the depression or anxiety.

Anxiety and depression may contribute to sleeplessness or sleeping too much, irritability, weight gain or loss, as well as an inability to focus or participate in normal activities. Anxiety may also cause nervousness, racing heart, panic and "what if" type thinking: "What if I lose my job, my house, etc."

So what can we do to alleviate anxiety and ward off depression? The APA recommends that we learn to manage our stress and not rely on unhealthy behaviors such as drinking too much, smoking and becoming sedentary. Being active, getting enough rest, eating healthy and spending time with healthy and upbeat friends and family can keep stress levels in check and anxiety and depression at bay. All too often when things get tough, people turn to things that will give them a quick fix. "Keep things in perspective, get the facts, maintain a hopeful outlook, build your resilience. These are skills to draw on that will help you adapt well in the face of adversity, threats or times of significant stress," says the APA.

If the depression or anxiety begins to interfere with your day-to-day activities, then perhaps it is time to seek professional help. Talking with a professional counselor, pastoral counselor or psychologist is a good place to start. He or she can assist you in reducing your symptoms and increasing your coping skills often in just a few sessions. It may also be a good idea during particularly stressful times to visit your internist or primary care physician for a medical and physical evaluation.

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Spring is here and this means that summer and the Cumberland County Fair are just weeks away. This year's fair marks the 50th anniversary of the Cumberland County Fairest of the Fair and director Frances Cunningham has planned a Fair Queen Reunion for Aug. 22, when the 50th Fairest of the Fair will be crowned by 2008 Queen Alexis Houston.

All former Fairest of the Fair winners have been invited to attend this year's reunion. If you know a former fair queen or if you are one and haven't received your invitation, please contact Frances Cunningham as quickly as possible. As of now, Ms. Cunningham says she has about half of the fair queens confirmed for the reunion. If you need more information, contact Cunningham at 248-1988.

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Soccer players interested in competing in the fall CRYSA league may sign up now through May 31. Registration may be completed at Century 21 Realty.

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Kudos to Ms. Cam's Dance Studio. Her annual recitals raised $2000 for the American Cancer Society as part of Relay For Life weekend!

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Dog lovers probably will want to be at the courthouse this weekend for the first ever Paw and Order. The Downtown Crossville event is being billed as "dog day at the courthouse." It will feature vendors, opening ceremonies and blessings of the animals, obedience training, peanut butter lick-off, an exhibition by the county's elite canine, the drug dog, and best dressed, smallest and biggest dog contests as well as a "Strut Your Mutt" parade. The action starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Dogs scheduled to be on Saturday's docket range from Yorkies to rescue dogs to labs and retrievers.

If you are worried about your dog getting too tired or overheated, don't be. The organizers have thought of everything including a time-out area.

If you want to catch a movie at the Palace during this weekend's event, Dog Day movie admission is $5 or a bag of dog food. All proceeds will go towards the local shelters and rescues. If you need more information, contact Downtown Crossville, Inc. at 787-1324.

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