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Source: Thailand Medical News  Sep 05, 2019
Studies Shows That Stress And Hardships During Economic Slowdowns Linked To Increased Mental Issues
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Studies Shows That Stress And Hardships During Economic Slowdowns Linked To Increased Mental Issues
Source: Thailand Medical News  Sep 05, 2019
A Study conducted by researchers from University of Minnesota show that people who suffered a financial, housing-related, or job-related hardship as a result of economic slowdowns were more likely to show increases in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and problematic alcohol and drug use. The research findings, published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal declines in mental health that were still evident several years after the official end of  ecessions or economic slowdowns

Lead researcher Miriam K. Forbes commented in a phone interview with Thailand Medical News "Our study provides a new perspective on the impact of recessions and economic slowdowns, showing that population-level analyses likely miss important patterns in the data.By looking at people's mental health and experiences of a recession or economic slowdown, we could see a different perspective. People who experienced a single recession or economic slowdown impact still had higher odds of nearly all of the adverse mental health outcomes we examined, including clinically significant symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, panic, and problems with alcohol and drug use, three years after the recession. And these odds were higher still in specific sociodemographic groups who suffered marked losses during the recession or economic slowdown without a strong safety net."

The lead researcher along with another colleague, Robert F. Krueger analyzed data collected as part of the longitudinal Midlife in the United States study of adults aged 24 to 75. To investigate the impacts of the recessions and economic slowdowms, which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, the researchers focused on data collected in the 2003-2004 wave, three years before the recession began, and the 2012-2013 wave, three years after the recession ended.

The team studied participants' symptoms of depression, anxiety, and panic disorder and their symptoms of problematic alcohol and drug use. In the 2012-2013 wave, participants also reported whether they had experienced a variety of recession-related impacts, including financial impacts (e.g., missed mortgage or credit card payments, declared bankruptcy), job-related impacts (e.g, took on an additional job, lost a job), and housing impacts (e.g., moved in with family/friends, threatened with foreclosure).

When the researchers looked at mental-health outcomes in relation to the hardships individuals experienced as a result of the recessions or economic slowdowns, the analyses told a negative story. Specifically, each hardship experienced was associated with an increased likelihood of having symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, panic, or problems with drug use. This pattern held even when Forbes and Krueger accounted for participants' previous symptoms and their sociodemographic characteristics.

The researchers also found that individuals who did not have a university education were more likely to show increased anxiety in relation to job-related hardships. And people not living with a spouse or partner were more likely to have problems with drug use associated with housing-related hardships. These associations may reflect the relative lack of safety net available to people in the job market who have fewer qualifications, or who rely on a single income.

The analyses also showed that people with greater financial advantage were particularly affected by some hardships. Compared with their less-advantaged peers, participants who were well off were more likely to have anxiety symptoms associated with housing-related hardships and were also more likely to have drug use problems associated with financial hardships. These associations may reflect that fact that experiences such as "moving in with friends or family to save money" or "selling possessions to make ends meet" likely signal a substantial loss of assets and a considerable level of hardship for people who were previously living comfortably.

These findings indicate the adverse effects of the recessions and economic slowdowns on people's mental health likely compounded and prolonged its economic costs, highlighting that government-funded mental health support following financial recessions may not only ease individuals' burdens, but could be a sound financial investment that may act to stimulate faster economic recovery following future recessions.

These findings may be particularly pertinent given some indications that the next period of economic contraction might begin as early as 2020.Thailand is one such country that is suffering an economic slowdown the last 5 years with no sight of recovery in place , only more worsening news each day. The local Thai government and Public Health Ministry should spend some efforts in public mental health programs etc.

Reference: Miriam K. Forbes, Robert F. Krueger. The Great Recession and Mental Health in the United States. Clinical Psychological Science, 2019; 216770261985933 DOI: 10.1177/2167702619859337