True, the rate of stress-related illnesses and suicides tend to go on the rise. In Japan recently, the government noted that the rate of suicides increase whenever there is economic depression -about 90 people do it daily, one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world. In the US, a poll by the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that 3 out of 4 Americans are under extreme stress with money woes. The loss of one’s home, shattered dreams, feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and anger can lead to depression and unhealthy lifestyles.
The effects of recession go beyond individuals to companies – distressed banks like Lehman’s and Bear Sterns also give rise to distressed employees, who, apart from being given unpleasant tasks to execute foreclosures, now find that they are themselves foreclosed! Why, even healthcare institutions are worried sick because, with recession, potential patients will tend to postpone non-urgent operations; healthcare subsidies are likely to be cut; and hospitals are likely to find increased account receivables.
How does this stress affect health? In many ways:- fatigue, headache, irritable stomachs, knotted muscles, poor appetite and sleep, teeth-grinding and low sex-drive. There is a tendency to take it out on food, smoke and drink too much, as well as being a full-time couch potato.
But within this picture of murky gloom, there is some light. A study “Are Recessions Good For Health?” showed that, contrary to expectations, recession did cause improved health and lesser deaths! These are the people who, having found more free time after having lost their jobs, undertook productive activities to manage stress. APA mentioned such stress-releasing activities as listening to music; reading ; exercising or walking ; spending time with family and friends and praying .
And if you get stressed reading this post, may I suggest listening to some relaxing Baroque music! :-)