- A new poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) shows that anxiety about inflation and loss of income is rising among Americans, especially Hispanic adults, mothers, millennials and Gen Z.
- The survey indicates that COVID-related anxiety decreases as stress related to social determinants like income insecurity increases.
- Experts suggest people can turn to community support organizations and that it is important to recognize the signs of stress and know when to seek help.
A new poll suggests the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the biggest worry Americans face.
According to results from the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) monthly Healthy Minds survey, nearly 90% of U.S. residents report feeling anxious or very anxious about inflation, an increase of 8 percentage points from compared to the previous month.
With inflation at its highest level in 40 years, the APA poll also found that more than 50% of Americans are worried about a possible loss of income.
“Healthy Minds Monthly shows us that the economy appears to have supplanted COVID as a major factor in Americans’ daily anxiety,” APA President Rebecca Brendel, MD, said in a statement.
The poll was conducted between June 18 and 20, 2022, and surveyed just over 2,000 American adults.
According to the APA survey, anxiety related to COVID-19 continues to decline.
COVID-related anxiety has risen from 49% to 47% among all Americans since May, and 16% (from 63% to 47%) among black Americans over the same period.
However, some groups were also more worried than average about the loss of income.
The poll found that 66% of Hispanic adults, 65% of mothers, and more than 60% of millennials and Gen Z were among the groups most likely to worry about losing income. (Nearly half of Gen Zers were also concerned about gun violence.)
“If you look at scientific measures of social stress or social vulnerability, the factors associated with increased risk of poor health are all affected by financial stress,” said Dr. Timothy B. Sullivan, chair of psychiatry. and behavioral sciences at Staten Island University. Hospital, which is part of Northwell Health in New York, told Healthline.
“We know that social vulnerability or the social determinants of health have a large and often invisible impact on physical and mental well-being,” he continued.
According to Sullivan, when people feel a loss of control over important things in their daily lives, it not only causes psychological distress, but over time it can also have detrimental effects on their physical health.
“The recent APA Stress in America study found that 72% of Americans said they felt stressed about money in at least the past month,” said Carmen Nicole Katsarov, LPCC, CCM, executive director of Behavioral Health Integration at CalOptima in Orange County, California.
She pointed out that as a low-income health plan, CalOptima sees the impact of financial stress on its members, both physically and psychologically, on a daily basis.
“When someone has a diminished ability to pay for the basic things of life, like food and shelter,” she said, “it can lead to feelings of hopelessness and hopelessness that can increase the likelihood of a serious mental health problem, especially when someone sees no way out of their situation.
Katsarov added that this has been associated with an increase in suicidal thoughts or actions. “Chronic stress can impact all areas of a person’s life, including self-esteem, work, and personal relationships,” she said.
“Psychiatrists, as well as other health professionals, need to be reminded to pay attention to the social determinants of health, which often receive less attention than what we consider to be typical psychological stressors,” said Sullivan.
He highlighted the benefits of building a support network to help manage stress.
“What’s important is understanding the signs and consequences of stress, working to build a support network at work and at home,” he said. “And ask for help when you feel you’re struggling.”
When distress becomes dangerous
Sullivan said if loved ones are worried about a friend or family member, they can encourage the person to seek help if they’re worried about their safety and well-being.
“Whether to speak to a mental health professional depends on whether a person is unable to cope with daily responsibilities or whether they are experiencing such mental distress that is dangerous,” a- he added.
There are several ways to deal with the stress and anxiety caused by financial strains due to inflation.
Lean on your friends and family
Sullivan said sharing concerns about financial stress with friends or family is often a good way to start.
“There’s nothing wrong with leaning on family and friends for support,” he said, adding that it’s important to let loved ones know you’re experiencing stress and that you need their support.
Seek professional help
Connecting with a mental health professional can also be helpful in managing financial stress. However, the decision to seek professional help depends on the severity of the impact of financial stress on a person.
Work with a financial planner
For those who can afford it, hiring a financial planner could pay off. Katsarov said some people might have access to a financial planner or credit counselor through their benefits.
Connect with the community
According to Katsarov, community organizations can help connect people to available government or state assistance programs, such as rental assistance, utility assistance and food resources.
“Community organizations can help people who don’t have access to traditional financial resources,” she added.
While it’s important to stay informed about what’s going on in the world, especially when it comes to the economy, the constant flow of negative information in the media can also increase anxiety and stress.
“It can be helpful for many to limit the amount of information by setting certain times of the day to absorb it,” Katsarov recommended. She said too much negative information can cause a range of physical and emotional reactions, including:
- trouble sleeping or lethargy
- sadness and sorrow
- feelings of withdrawal
Although COVID-related anxiety in the United States seems to be waning, many Americans are worried about inflation and the potential loss of income.
If rising gas prices and the cost of living are making you anxious, remember that there are community organizations you can count on for support, in addition to your loved ones.
More importantly, it helps to know the signs of stress and anxiety and to seek help when you are experiencing emotional difficulties due to financial constraints.