Thursday, April 09, 2009

Does the Failing Economy Lead to Psychiatric Disorder?

In yesterday's New York Times, Pam Belluck writes "Recession Anxiety Seeps into Everyday Life." She talks about people who've needed psychiatric care, including medications, because of the poor economy. Some are people who are not actually having financial problems, but are very symptomatic, nonetheless.

So what have I seen? I work in two different outpatient settings, but I can summarize what I've seen pretty easily.

---In the private practice setting, every patient has at least mentioned the troubled economy and concerns about money, if not in passing, then as a cause of significant worry and personal concern. Some people have decided to come less often. Referrals are down. No one new has presented with their only complaint being anxiety because of money worries, but in the realm of things causing stress, it's pretty much on everyone's list. Many people are worried about losing their health insurance.

--In clinic settings, many of the patients I see receive disability or some other source of fixed income. Money is always a stress, there's simply not enough of it. Or, they live in a setting where their needs are met, their money is managed with no room for luxuries or savings, and it's not something they mention to me. There are no jobs to be lost, no cars to be repossessed, no luxury vacations to be longed for. Here, few mention the economy or money worries in a way that relates to economic changes: they have no credit, mortgages, or portfolios, and paying the bills is the same struggle it's always been.

Anyone else notice anything interesting?