Nearly 90% of Americans Report Inflation-Related Anxiety

Nearly 90% of Americans Report Inflation-Related Anxiety

  • A new poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) shows that anxiety about inflation and loss of income is surging among Americans, particularly Hispanic adults, mothers, millennials, and Gen Zers.
  • The poll indicates that COVID-related anxiety is decreasing as stress about social determinants like income insecurity increases.
  • Experts suggest that people can turn to community-based organizations for support and that it’s important to recognize the signs of stress and to know when to ask for help.

A new poll suggests that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the biggest worry Americans face.

According to results from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Healthy Minds Monthly Poll, nearly 90% of residents in the United States report feeling anxious or very anxious about inflation, an increase of 8 percentage points from the previous month.

With inflation at a 40-year high, the APA poll also revealed that over 50% of Americans are worried about a potential loss of income.

“Healthy Minds Monthly is showing us that the economy seems to have supplanted COVID as a major factor in American’s day-to-day anxiety,” said APA President Rebecca Brendel, MD, in a statement.

According to the APA poll, anxiety about COVID-19 continues to decrease.

COVID-related anxiety is down from 49% to 47% among all Americans since May, and 16% (from 63% to 47%) among Black Americans during the same period.

However, there was also greater than average anxiety about income loss among certain groups.

The poll found that 66% of Hispanic adults, 65% of mothers, and over 60% of millennials and Gen Zers were among the groups most likely to worry about loss of income. (Nearly half of Gen Zers were also concerned about gun violence).

Financial stress affects health

“If you look at scientific measures of social stress or social vulnerability, the factors that are associated with increased risk of ill health are all affected by financial stress,” Dr. Timothy B. Sullivan, chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Staten Island University Hospital, part of Northwell Health in New York, told Healthline.

According to Sullivan, when people feel a loss of control over things that are important in their daily life, it not only causes psychological distress but over time, it could also have adverse effects on their physical health.

Financial distress can lead to despair

“APA’s recent Stress in America study found that 72% of Americans reported feeling stressed about money at least sometime in the prior month,” said Carmen Nicole Katsarov, LPCC, CCM, executive director at Behavioral Health Integration at CalOptima in Orange County, California.

She pointed out that as a health plan for low-income people, CalOptima sees the impact financial stress has on its members, both physically and psychologically, on a daily basis.

“When someone has a decrease in the ability to afford the basic things related to living, such as food and housing,” she said, “it can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness that can increase the likelihood of a serious mental health condition, especially when someone cannot see a way out of their situation.”

Katsarov added this had been associated with an increase in suicidal thoughts or actions. “Chronic stress can impact all areas of someone’s life, including self-esteem, work, and personal relationships,” she said.

Social determinants of health often overlooked

He emphasized the benefits of building a supportive network to help manage stress.

“What’s important is to understand the signs and consequences of stress, to work to establish a supportive network both at work and at home,” he said. “And to ask for help when you feel you’re struggling.”

When distress becomes unsafe

Sullivan said that if loved ones are concerned about a friend or family member, they may encourage the individual to seek help if they’re worried for their safety and well-being.

Coping with inflation anxiety

There are a few ways you can cope with stress and anxiety caused by financial strain due to inflation.

Lean on friends and family

Sullivan said that sharing concerns about financial stress with friends or family is often a good way to start.

“There is nothing wrong with leaning on family and friends for support,” he said, adding that it’s important to let those close to you know you’re experiencing stress and need their support.

Seek professional help

Connecting with a mental health professional may also be helpful to manage stress related to finances.

Work with a financial planner

For those who can afford it, hiring a financial planner could pay off. Katsarov said that some people may be able to access a financial planner or credit counselor through their work benefits.

Connect with community

According to Katsarov, community-based organizations can help connect people to available governmental or state programs for aid, like rent assistance, utility assistance, and food resources.

“Community-based organizations can assist people who don’t have access to traditional financial resources,” she added.

Impact of negative media on stress and anxiety

While it’s important to stay informed about what’s happening in the world, particularly as it pertains to the economy, the constant stream of negative information in the media may also increase anxiety and stress.

“It can be helpful for many to limit the amount of information by setting certain times of day to absorb it,” Katsarov recommended. She said too much negative information could cause a range of physical and emotional reactions, including:

  • anxiety
  • headaches
  • sleep disturbances or lethargy
  • sadness and grief
  • feelings of withdrawal

Takeaway

More importantly, it’s helpful to know the signs of stress and anxiety and to ask for help when you’re experiencing emotional difficulty due to financial strain.

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