Financial anxiety might be affecting your life more than you know. It might even be the cause of PTSD-like symptoms.
Going back to basics, money is a resource that makes people feel safe and secure. When those feelings are compromised by worrying about your financial situation, you can feel as if your very survival is at stake. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that it can cause stress.
Acute Financial Distress
According to the American Psychological Association, something like 64% of Americans get stressed out over money at some point in their lives. There is another finding:
A science team in the USA say that money worries affect 23% of Americans, and they have come up with a term for this condition – AFD – Acute Financial Distress. The team say that the feelings and behaviours that accompany AFD are very similar to those that psychologists use in identifying people who suffer from PTSD.
The Causes Of Financial Anxiety
Many things that can lead to feelings of financial stress. They include things like:
- Keeping up with mortgage and rent payments
- Worrying about debt
- Having an unstable income
- Education payments
- Wanting a better lifestyle
- Not having sufficient money set aside for emergencies
- Worrying about retirement
For many people here in the UK, the unforeseen problems brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic – loss of employment, being furloughed etc., have bought another worrying set of circumstances into play.
How Financial Stress Affects Lives
The truth is that when you are financially stressed, it can ruin your self-esteem, make you feel somehow flawed, and it can negatively impact your well-being in many of the ways listed below.
When you are financially stressed, it’s very difficult to stop worrying about money, particularly when you go to bed. It’s one of the most common causes of insomnia.
Putting On Or Losing Weight
The effect of insomnia, eating fast, cheap convenience foods, or sometimes even skipping meals to save money can all affect your appetite causing you to either gain or lose weight.
For many, money is a sort of safety net and worrying about your money supply and cash flow can result in anxiety disorder which manifests itself in symptoms such as a pounding heartbeat, shaking, breaking out into a sweat, and panic attacks in general.
Difficulties With Relationships
Money is often cited by many as a cause of friction in relationships. It can lead to frequent arguments, feelings of constant irritability, and even loss of libido. It can begin to nibble away at even the strongest relationships and, of course, cause real unhappiness.
We’ve already talked about anxiety and panic attacks which are real physical problems, but financial stress can also bring about hypertension and heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, and diabetes. This can lead to having to take time off work which will only exacerbate the problem.
Not having enough money to spend, or worrying about your money supply, can also result in you stopping socialising with your friends. You then retreat further into your shell, which gives you more time to worry about things and increases the pressure of stress even more.
You may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms, things like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and gambling. It can even lead to things like self-harm.
Continual stress, feelings of anxiety and helplessness will eventually take their toll. A study undertaken by the University of Nottingham found that people who suffer from financial stress are twice as likely to become depressed.
Ways Of Dealing With Problems Caused By Financial Anxiety
Here are several suggestions you could try to help to alleviate the problems caused by financial stress.
- Share your problems with someone you trust
- If you have a problem with credit cards, give them to someone else for safekeeping, put them in a difficult place to access, or as a last resort, cut them up.
- Stop shopping online or look for some free online tools to help you with limiting your online expenditure.
- Think up ideas for delaying buying things and put them into practice.
- Try and take your mind off worrying by doing something pleasurable such as going for a walk, meeting a friend, or even watching something you enjoy on TV.
- Think about having a chat with your bank manager
- Read the “Coping with Financial Worries” page on the NHS website.
A Way Of Dealing With Future Money Concerns
Many people are concerned not only with their financial position in “the now,” they are contemplating what happens with their future and in retirement. If you have any disposable income, one of the best things you can do is to make an investment in a stocks and shares ISA UK account.
You can invest as much or as little as you like within your personal annual tax-free allowance of £20,000. You will get a much better return than with any other ordinary savings account but will still have access to the money should you need it for an emergency.