The Impact of Economic Crises on Our Mental Health

The cost of groceries keeps going up, gas prices are at record highs, it seems like the stock marketing is tanking, and all of this has many wondering when the economic stress will end

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The economic turmoil we're dealing with every day has many feeling the pressure on their wallets.

Rosie Ferrick of Somerville said she does what she can.

“I drive less to save on gas. I watch for all the sales and I try to think economically. What else can I do?"

Rising prices and a tanking stock market have us all wondering when this economic stress will end. Peter Cohan is a lecturer at Babson College and you won’t like his answer.

"It will take lots more unemployment," Cohan said.

Fewer people working would reduce spending and drive down prices. It’s a depressing thought.

One of the chief drivers of inflation that many people are watching is gas prices. There is a proposal to suspend the state gas tax to bring the price down. Gov. Charlie Baker is on board, saying he hopes the legislature approves it.

"If we were to suspend the gas tax the cost of gas would drop by 25-cents a gallon.  I mean that would make a huge difference for a lot of those folks," Baker said.

The average price in MA is $4.73 a gallon. Based on a 15-gallon tank, that would be a $4 savings per fill-up. And JP Morgan is predicting gas prices nationwide could average $6 by the end of summer.

In the meantime you might think more people would turn to the T.  But that's not the case. According to the MBTA, train ridership is only at 48% of pre-pandemic levels. Busses are at 70%.

The American Psychological Association says the chief drivers of stress are economic -- work and money. Dr. Adolfo Cuevas, a psychologist at Tufts University, said that anxiety can produce high levels of depression and even physical dysregulation of the body

Cohan said more than 40% of the country is invested in the stock market and as the numbers on Wall Street drop so do people’s moods.

"So you have what I think of as a reverse wealth effect. When people look at their stock portfolio and see how much less money they have they feel poorer, are less inclined to spend," Cohan said.

Cuevas said since we can’t control the markets we need to focus on what we can do, and turn to friends and neighbors for support.

"People have developed other effective strategies that you may not have heard about before so just talking about this with other people will not only help fine-tune your own strategy but also develop new ones," Cuevas suggested.

For some that means understanding that this, too, shall pass.

"People gotta relax. Why they getting all excited about it? This is just a phase of our life that we’re just gonna… we’re gonna be alright," O'Connor said.

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