The current, bleak economic status in the United States affects each and every one of us in one way or another. Unemployment is up, so is the cost of healthcare, gas and food. We’re still reeling from the housing crisis while a growing number of vital free services like public libraries and elementary schools are evaporating, and the list goes on, and on, and on…
Through it all, an interesting, and unfortunate relationship between money, anxiety and depression appears to be intensifying as we bear witness to the deterioration of quality of living standards in America. A great deal of research has been done to examine the many ways in which economic concerns manifest themselves in our lives. It’s worth noting that mental depression is often described as feeling sad, miserable, lacking enthusiasm or energy for short periods of time. At some point or another, many of us have experienced events in our lives that have brought on such despair. A more severe, and often chronic form of the disorder is clinical depression, in which the feelings of sadness, anguish and hopelessness endure for months – or longer.
On a parallel note, an economic depression is defined as a sustained, long-term downturn in economic activity in one or more economies. Now, although there’s been no official declaration that a poor personal financial outlook can trigger depression, it’s clear that the ‘broke effect’ can put one on the fast track to deep depression, and for some individuals, even suicide.
Money, cash, mula – whatever you choose to call it – and depression (anxiety too) intertwine in a myriad of ways. On one hand, depression can bring on money problems if one’s sense of despair interrupts their livelihood, or impedes their financial judgment in some form or fashion. On the other, job loss, reduction of pay or sudden, large debt could create feelings of acute anxiety and depression for just about anyone.
The NY Times sounded off on this depressing trickle down affect of our rickety economy:
“Some people may find themselves being more irritable, anxious, lethargic or sad. Some may be unable to sleep, may eat too much or too little, or may experience physical symptoms of stress, like high blood pressure or headaches. Others may turn to behaviors like gambling, alcohol or drug use. Often, one symptom can lead to another — anxiety can lead to sleeplessness, which can cause greater stress and so on.”
And let us not forget self-care. Without proper funds, financing activities meant to enhance our overall well-being can be rather difficult. Some us need our gym memberships, cash for occasional excursions, wholesome goods from our favorite (inflated) natural food markets or even therapy sessions, not to mention the cash flow needed to purchase medicine and other products to sustain or physical health. Whether you’re a recent grad or workforce veteran, chances are you’ve had to sacrifice at least one of life’s simple pleasures at some point in your adult life. So let’s get straight to it; dig some of the most common causes of the “broke a$$ blues”:
~Massive Debt – Be it from large student loans (“good debt”) or maxed out credit cards (“bad debt”), no one should be slave to their debts.
~Health Care Costs – Either insured or uninsured, it can be expensive.
~Housing Costs – inflated mortgage as well as rent in some areas.
~Poor or non-existent budgeting skills
Sometimes the constant stress of “being broke” or strapped for cash feels absolutely soul-deflating but as this site that addresses social & anxiety disorders explains, “Remember this — it is perfectly normal to feel anxious in times like these. Anxiety is your body’s way of dealing with stress — your body is making sure you stay alert and are diligent in protecting your finances and job. Also understand that you are not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, three out of four adults are stressed about the economy and their personal finances.”
It is normal to feel anxious in times such as these, but that’s no reason to succumb to the negativity. Here are a few suggestions that may help to curb money related stress:
~Meditation or other mindful stress relieving practices such as deep breathing, yoga or journaling.
~Exercise is another practice that helps the body and mind release tension.
~Seek Therapy or join a support group.
~Seek financial advice through your bank or credit union. Mint.com is also an excellent resource designed to keep your finances in a healthy state.
~Live Sustainably (within your means – not someone else’s) and avoid accruing unnecessary debt.
Additional related reads to help you cope with financial stress:
Clutchettes, what are your thoughts on keeping your mind and money on the up & up when the the low-fund blues come calling?