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
"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
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
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.