The Great Recession has been one of the most stressful periods of our generation. And though we are starting to recover as a nation, the stress from these difficult economic times continues to have a great impact on our health. In fact, a new study shows that the national life expectancy rate has dropped and it could be related to financial stress.
Money and the economy have always been major stress triggers for Americans.
So it’s no surprise that the American Psychological Association reports that 72 percent of Americans feel stressed about money at least some of the time and 22 percent even report experiencing extreme stress due to their finances. People with financial stress are more likely to put their healthcare needs on hold. This type of stress can affect a person’s emotional health as 31 percent of adults say that money is a source of conflict in their relationships. And in addition, financial stress may even cause death.
This year the CDC reports that the life expectancy rate for Americans has dropped for the first time in over two decades. The life expectancy rate dropped to 78.8 years old (a decrease of 0.1 years). The U.S. life expectancy is less than other modern countries, including Japan (83.5), Canada (81.9), and Denmark (80.5), according to the World Bank. This is partially due to the fact that the leading causes of death spiked in the past few years. Deaths by heart disease increased by 0.9 percent, death by suicide increased by 2.3 percent, and deaths by stroke increased by 3.0 percent.
Experts from Washington University in St. Louis believe that economic stress played a part in the rise of the nation’s leading causes of death and studies do show a correlation. One study has found that financial stress increased risks of cardiovascular disease, especially among single men and women who lacked cash margins. And one university study found that financial stress increased anxiety, worsened depression, and also contributed to alcohol dependency, which can contribute to suicide.
Even with the national death rate increasing, you personally can take steps to reduce your financial stress and greatly improve your health. If you are experiencing financial stress you can ease your burden with a few helpful tips. You can reduce your stress by creating a financial plan with the help of a trusted advisor or addressing any negative coping tactics that you develop due to financial stress (such as drinking).