Everyone knows money is stressful, unless you’re the member of a royal family with a small principality overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Now a study says financial stress can get so bad it can physically hurt a person. Scary, but not surprising in a world where families are being made homeless every week and people have to make a choice between bills and food.
The study was published a few weeks ago online in the journal Psychological Science and says that when we’re economically insecure, our tolerance for pain decreases – hence the increased level of hurting when anxiety over money builds.
How did the researchers make the link?
One experiment involved looking at the economic data of 33,720 US households from 2008 and their consumption of over-the-counter painkillers. The homes with higher unemployment spent more on painkillers. Where two people were out of work, 20% more was spent on drugs like ibuprofen than where one person was unemployed.
At a later stage of the study, 114 participants held their hands in ice water as long as they could bear. This determined their ‘baseline’ pain tolerance. (I hope everyone got significant One4All vouchers.) After the ice challenge, people read a statement about the jobs market – these statements either gave a secure or insecure impression of the economy. Then participants wrote a third-person piece about how a college student would feel entering the jobs market. Once they were done writing, people returned to the ice basins and it emerged that those who got the insecure statements had lower pain tolerance levels.
Another part of the study asked 100 people about a time in their life where they felt totally in control or when they felt no control. Participants talked about this period of their life for at least ninety seconds and then asked about the pain there were in when they finished. Those who shared a moment of no control registered as feeling twice the level of pain as the participants who told a story about when they were in control.
It’s a scary conclusion, that money worries cause physical pain. But is anyone really surprised? A lack of stability makes everyone feel vulnerable, and life has not been stable these past few years.
Via Daily Mail