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How Does Money Affect Our Mental Health?

According to the research “Socioeconomic Inequalities in Disability-free Life Expectancy in Older People from England and the United States: A Cross-National Population-Based Study” from May 2020, it’s enough to be rich if you want to have good mental health. What could be easier, right? Experts are already using the term “financial health” — and it reflects the point well. But seriously, why does money affect our mental health so much?

The fact is that worrying about money is a stress that we face on a daily basis in case of financial problems. According to a report published by the American Psychological Association in 2017, money is the second leading cause of stress.

Debt is one of the main sources of mental stress. A survey among the Americans who owed at least a thousand dollars showed that 38% of them had sleep problems, 48% lost optimism, and 47% lost self-confidence. In addition, according to another study, people were more likely to experience depressive symptoms when they did not feel in control of their finances. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid all debts. However, before applying for a loan, you should assess objectively your financial situation and the ability to repay the money. In case of financial emergencies, it is better to apply for short-term payday loans, which you can quickly repay from your next paycheck.

Also, when we become stressed, our brain triggers a defensive reaction as a survival mechanism when we face a threat. You don’t even have to be in real danger to feel it. Just counting the days until your next payday and worrying about money will be enough. When this happens, stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, are released to help us either fight or hide. This runs our body down and reduces its protective functions. Thus, financial difficulties do make us more vulnerable.

We also start making bad decisions. This is because the activity in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and frontal lobes of the brain decreases under stress. Since they are responsible for concentration and planning, you should expect nothing but compulsive reactions. Also, financial stress can exacerbate your money difficulties. For example, you can start to relieve stress through compulsive shopping or ignore solving financial problems to the bitter end.

What happens when we have no debts and feel financial stability? First, the psychological state of such a person naturally improves. Secondly, he starts to develop healthy habits. At least 69% of the survey respondents admitted they choose healthier food when having enough money.

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