How can financial stress affect my health?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The financial market's violent swings can threaten your fiscal and physical health.

Every 100-point shift increased heart-disease deaths by 5% when the Chinese stock market went from boom to bust between 2006 and late 2008. Then, last year, Duke researchers connected stock market drops with increases in heart attacks here.

Why are the stock market's fast moves so bad for your heart? Plenty of explanations make sense: Sudden stress can strangle blood flow to the heart, boost blood pressure and speed up heart rates. The flood of stress hormones and racing blood may tear open deposits of gunky plaque in artery walls, causing plaque ruptures and dangerous, even deadly, clots. And don't underestimate factors like stress-induced snacking on foods high in saturated fat.

Psychologists interviewed during the market's big financial swings say they see more insomnia, poor concentration, irritability and excessive tension. It's not a temporary blip. Business-cycle low points have coincided with a rise in suicide ever since the Great Depression, says a new government report.
Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Financial health and happiness count toward a better life. A survey conducted for the American Psychological Association identified money and the economy as the top source of stress, followed by work, family responsibilities, and health concerns. Fallout from an economic meltdown could put many people at higher risk for depression, anxiety, or compulsive behaviors like overeating, gambling, and substance abuse, warn experts at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Indeed, a health poll taken by the Associated Press and AOL noted that people reporting higher levels of stress from debt were more likely than those experiencing less stress to suffer headaches, trouble sleeping, muscle tension, digestive problems, severe anxiety, and other stress-related ailments.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.