Although the worst of the recession may be over, many are still struggling from the effects of the meltdown of mega-corporations over the past number of years. Lay-offs have continued to be high. Wages have dropped, while the cost of living continues to rise. Everything from gasoline for the car to food for the table is more expensive than it was a year ago. Unfortunately, this has created a higher risk for depression and other mental health problems in those trying to survive on a low income.
In a recent study, researchers analyzed surveys of almost 35,000 adults in the U.S. Interviewers assessed study participants for a range of mental disorders and asked them about their total household income. Among all participants, about one in five had some kind of mental disorder at the time of the second survey. That’s quite a revealing number — 1/5 of all the participants were struggling to keep a positive outlook.
Why was the number so high? The researchers found that lower income was linked with a higher rate of almost all mental disorders, including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse disorders. People making less than $20,000 per year were also more likely to have a personality disorder, such as borderline or antisocial personality disorder, than those in the highest income bracket, with a household income of $70,000 per year or higher. Those with the lowest income were also more likely to have attempted suicide at some point.
Clearly, money can play a huge role in how people feel about themselves and how they cope with their lives. Dealing with the loss of income and surviving on little money takes a tremendous toll on some people.
If you find yourself in the situation where you have only enough money for the basic necessities, remember there are still ways you can boost your spirits and try to feel hopeful and positive about your circumstances. Get some exercise. Your body will deal with stress and depression a lot better if it gets a workout and some fresh air. Include nourishing and healing foods in your everyday diet — countless studies have shown that the vitamins and minerals found in healthy foods have a huge impact on our mental well-being. And one final bit of health advice: keep in touch with friends. Plays some board games, go to a free concert, sign out some DVDs at the library and have a movie night — whatever it takes to keep feeling part of the world and hopeful that things will soon change for the better.