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Your 9-Point Health Bailout Package

Stressed by the Economy? Don't Let It Wreck Your Health

7. You're angry about the financial crisis.

That's understandable, but seething anger can be bad for your heart.

"Practically everybody is feeling the heat" from the financial crisis, says Diwalker Jain, MD, FACC, FRCP, FASNC, a professor of medicine and director of nuclear cardiology at Drexel University's medical school.

Anger may be riskiest for people with heart disease and angry, hostile, or type A personalities, Jain notes.

"It is likely that the people who already have a pre-existing heart condition and are prone to be angry or hostile or type A behavior, they are more likely to be adversely affected by all this news," Jain says.

His advice: Look for healthy ways to channel your anger. That might include working out to blow off steam or lobbying for changes you think the system needs.

"As a cardiologist, I can't say, 'Don't get angry,' because this anger is very appropriate. But all I can say is this anger can affect their heart, particularly if they have heart disease," Jain says.

Also, if you have chest pain, palpitations, or shortness of breath, call 911; don't just talk it up to stress. "You don't want to take a chance," says Jain. And if the economic crunch is making it hard to pay for your medicines, Jain suggests talking to your doctor to see if lower-cost generic drugs might be appropriate.

8. You really want a drink.

That might be a red flag for some people, says Sue Hoisington, PsyD, LP, executive director of clinical services at Hazelden, an addiction treatment and recovery services provider based in Minneapolis.

"I think there are people who can drink a glass of wine and it relaxes them and there's nothing abnormal or unhealthy about that. The people we're concerned about are people who may be vulnerable to addiction or people who already use alcohol or drugs as a way to relieve stress," Hoisington says.

In the past three to six months, Hazelden has been contacted by five or six people who have "either relapsed or their use has increased to the point where it's problematic because of anxiety and worry about the economy and/or loss of a job," says Hoisington.

Her advice: If your drinking or drug use concerns you or someone else, get a confidential assessment to see if there's a problem. Hoisington suggests calling your company's Employee Assistance Program, a counseling clinic, your local mental health service, or Hazelden.

9. Your happiness has taken a major hit.

That might not last forever.

"The impact of money on happiness depends to some extent on where you are on the income ladder," says Elizabeth Dunn, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Canada's University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

"People tend to be very sensitive to changes in their circumstances, so when you first look at stock portfolio and see that it's a lot smaller than it used to be, I think you do experience a bit of a hit in terms of well-being. But people seem to be able to adapt to new circumstances very quickly. So even people who are feeling a bit distressed right now will probably bounce back fairly quickly," says Dunn.

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