25 Ways the Great Recession Is Affecting Our Health

Times of recession have an effect on our health. The recent Great Recession has already created changes to our overall health, according to different experts. The pressures that come with recession, as well as lifestyle changes that it entails, often cause health changes. However, it is unclear whether these changes are largely good for our health or bad for our health.

There are many different theories out there surrounding what the recession does do out health. Some say that the effects are positive, forcing us into better lifestyle decisions. Others insist that the effects are negative, creating a situation of deteriorating health. Most likely, the truth is somewhere in the middle, and dependent on individual factors. Here are 25 ways that the experts say the Great Recession is affecting our health:

Poor Health

Some believe that the Great Recession has had mostly negative impacts on our health. Here are some of the ways that a recession can negatively impact health:

  1. Depression: More people experience depression when a recession is on, due to the stresses involved. This can be especially prevalent in primary breadwinners who have lost their jobs.
  2. Substance abuse: Along with depression can come substance abuse. Many people try to medicate themselves in order to take away some of the sting of their troubles. Even prescription drug abuse rises during the depression.
  3. Relationships: A healthy lifestyle includes good relationships. The pressures of a recession can lead to strained relationships and increased fighting, eroding the overall quality of health.
  4. Junk food: Since junk food is often cheaper than many healthy foods, and since people feel bad during a recession and want greasy comfort food, some are putting on the pounds. The access to more junk can cause problems that come with obesity and an unhealthy diet.
  5. Less exercise: In some cases, gym memberships are being affected by the recession. These are expensive. When financially ailing families have to cut costs, the gym membership is likely the first to go.
  6. Stress: Increased stress can strain the body. While stress can be good in small amounts, constant stress can lead to faster aging and even create other health problems.
  7. Remaining in dangerous relationships: During a recession, the divorce rate goes down — it’s too expensive and no one can afford it. However, for some relationships that are emotionally or physically dangerous, this can be a bad thing, leaving partners exposed to the health risks of remaining in a bad relationship.
  8. Homelessness: Those who lose their homes and have nowhere to go feel the health stresses associated with homelessness. This can mean a number of things that can be damaging to physical and emotional health.
  9. Putting off doctor visits: Many people have health problems, but they put off doctor visits to avoid co-pays stressing finances. In many cases, people have lost their insurance coverage through work. This results in even more expensive health care, and an increased likelihood that health problems will worsen since they are not addressed early on.
  10. Lack of sleep: Many people stay up worrying about their situation during a recession. This can lead to tiredness, and other physical health issues that are related to sleep. Additionally, tiredness can lead to increased car accidents and fatalities.
  11. Overwork: Many workers are afraid of losing their jobs, so they work longer hours for the same pay. Unfortunately, this overwork can result in decreased physical and mental health as workers get less sleep, and less time to emotionally recharge with their families.
  12. Headaches: All of these issues can lead to headaches and migraines. Indeed, many doctors report that they are seeing increases in patients that are seeking help for headaches.
  13. Heart attack: One of the things that can trigger a heart attack is great stress. Stessers related to the recession, combined with poor diet habits, can actually trigger heart attacks.
  14. Immune system: All of the above factors can have an effect on the general immune system. This can result in increased incidence of flu and cold and other illnesses.
  15. Suicide: During a recession, death by suicide increases, often due to desperation and hopelessness. In some cases, murder-suicide is a major problem.

Good Health

Even though there are a lot of negative ways the recession can impact your health, it can also help your health — if you choose to direct your efforts in specific ways. Here are some positive health practices that can come out of the recession:

  1. Home cooking: Instead of eating out, more people are cooking at home to save money. These meals are often healthier than what you would get at a restaurant.
  2. Gardening: To save money, many are growing some of their own food. This means more fruits and vegetables in the diet — which is healthier.
  3. Reduced smoking: Interestingly, smoking rates go down during a recession. This might have to do with how expensive cigarettes are, or could have other reasons.
  4. Physical activity: While some people exercise less, others exercise more. Some actually go to the gym more, and others use physical activity as a way to naturally release stress.
  5. More time with family: In some cases, for those who look for silver linings, the recession can mean more family time. This is especially true if families decide to stop shopping as much to save money, and instead look for more quality activities.
  6. Increased simplicity: Some are using the recession as a way to re-connect with the simpler pleasures of life, spending less and looking for ways to be content in life. This can lead to lower stress levels.
  7. Learning to cut back: Finances can cause a great deal of stress, but the recession is forcing many to revisit their finances. The savings rate is up, and people are working to improve their finances, ultimately leading to less stress down the road.
  8. More sleep: Some people, instead of staying awake and worrying, are getting more sleep. In many cases this is the result of not having a job, since worries about losing it are no longer prevalent, and some have more time for sleep.
  9. Volunteering: There are health benefits associated with volunteering, including less stress and a general feeling of well-being. As a result of having more time, more people are discovering the benefits of volunteering.
  10. Lower mortality rate: In some cases, the health changes associated with recession are leading to lower mortality rates and increased life expectancy.

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