How financial stress affects your health

The causes of financial stress are evident everywhere. Foreclosure of mortgages, people losing their jobs in almost every sector, retirement portfolios dwindling, and creditors refusing to lend money to an ever-increasing list of clientèle .. the list goes on. While the causes of financial stress are being addressed in whatever manner the government and private organizations are choosing to address them – the symptoms of financial stress are mostly being ignored.

Recognising the symptoms of financial stress

Financial stress can manifest itself in more ways than one and it is important to understand when this condition is making itself known. The tell-tale signs of financial stress include: headaches, hypertension, backaches, anxiety, ulcers and depression – and that’s naming just a few. These are not medical conditions that need to be treated; it is the underlying financial stress that is causing these conditions that must be treated to alleviate these symptoms. The only way to determine if financial stress is causing these symptoms, or any one of them, is to personally determine your financial situation. A doctor cannot do this for you – you have to determine it yourself.

Paul J. Lavrakas, a researcher from the Ohio State University, who analysed the results of an extensive poll conducted in 2008 by the Associated Press, says that over 16 million people suffer from financial stress in the US alone. This number can be multiplied 100 times to get an understanding of the world population suffering from stress related to finances. He says that nearly 30 percent of people suffering from financial stress develop ulcers or some other digestive condition.

Financial stress and children

What is even more troubling is the fact that children are the worst suffers of financial stress. School psychologists report that the number of children suffering from stress caused by financial conditions their families are going through is affecting their mental, physical health and well-being and thereby adversely affecting their studies and interaction with their teachers and colleagues.

A study over ten years conducted by the Iowa State University Institute for Social and Behavioural Research reported that children exposed to adverse socio-economic conditions during their early years could lead to them developing mental health issues when they are in their teens.

Treating financial stress

The symptoms of stress are all the same – they can be caused by anything. Stress can be treated effectively by treating the causes of stress. In this case, reviewing and managing finances well.

To start with, it is important to determine what is causing your financial dilemma. You may have lost your job, bills have piled up, the mortgage is not as attractive as it may have been when you took it out, unexpected financial emergencies have depleted your savings, and almost anything that has led to a scarcity of funds may be causing you financial stress.

If your earnings are inadequate, you may consider looking for a better paying job. Or better still; try earning something on the side. There are so many ways to supplement your income after work or on the weekends. Work around small fiscal problems with money loans as a temporary solution. Work with a financial advisor and make small investments, consolidate your debts and repay them in smaller instalments each month over an extended period of time to alleviate some of the stress caused by your inability to repay large debts every month. Consider the possibility of refinancing your mortgage at lower rates of interest and channel the cash you save into better investment plans or use it to clear outstanding debts.

Financial stress cannot be relieved by a doctor as effectively as you can relieve yourself of the symptoms by working with financial advisers and getting down to living a frugal life and following a well planned budget at least until your financial condition improves.

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