Americans are crappy with money — and that’s wrecking their health.
Updated: December 1, 2017
It’s hard to buck this trend.
Americans are drowning in financial troubles. Credit card debt hit a record high this year at more than $1 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. Student loan debt has jumped 150% over the span of just a decade. And not only are we drowning in debt, we’re not saving. About 1 in 4 Americans don’t even have a single dollar saved for an emergency.
All of this takes a big toll on us: A survey released in November by the American Institute of CPAs found that more than half of Americans with debt say that it’s negatively impacted their lives. What’s more, money is the No. 1 cause of stress for Americans, according to data from the American Psychological Association. “Regardless of the economic climate, money and finances have remained the top stressor since our survey began in 2007,” the results revealed.
This money stress is causing more than just some feelings of dread. Here are some of the many ways financial stress may impact your health:
Depression and anxiety. People with greater financial stress have more symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who aren’t financially stressed, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Anxiety, Coping and Stress.
Migraines. A study released in September found that for many people, financial stress is related to getting more migraines. Indeed, people with a certain genetic variation of the so-called CLOCK gene — it helps control things like body temperature and levels of the stress hormone cortisol; about ⅓ of the population has this variation — are more likely to get migraines in times of financial stress.
Ulcers and digestive issues. An Associated Press poll showed that people who are under high financial stress are way more likely to complain of ulcers and digestive problems (27% of them said they had these issues) than those who have low financial stress (8%).
High blood pressure and heart attacks. High levels of debt may also lead to higher blood pressure, according to a 2013 study of 8400 young adults published in the journal Social Science Medicine. Treating hypertension can cost you $700 or more per year, data shows Annual expenditures for those treated for hypertension averaged $733 per adult in 2010. What’s more, people with high financial stress are more likely to report they’ve had a heart attack or an arrhythmia (6%) than those with low financial stress (3%), according to AP data.
Disrupted sleep. Well over half of both women (68%) and men (56%) say they lose sleep at least occasionally because they’re worried about money, according to a survey of 1,000 adults released in 2016 by CreditCards.com, a credit-card comparison website. And that can be very costly: Americans spend more than $40 billion on sleep aids.
This story was originally published in September and has been updated.
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