Stress from crisis more than financial

Mary Pacifico of Rotterdam said she wasn’t overly stressed about the country’s financial condition S

Mary Pacifico of Rotterdam said she wasn’t overly stressed about the country’s financial condition Sunday as she sat having lunch at Panera Bread in Mohawk Commons.

“Sure, you worry about your purchases because you’re trying to stretch your dollar and we have two kids in private schools, but it’s not changing my life,” she said.

For others, the recent dramatic financial downturn may have more than just an effect on their pocketbooks — it could have an effect on their emotional state as well.

Ronald Nathan, a psychologist with a private practice in Albany who also served as a clinical professor at Albany Medical College for 10 years, said he thinks the country’s financial state is affecting people in ways they might not realize.

He said the result is related to the fight-or-flight response that humans have developed, which physically prepares people faced with any type of danger.

Nathan said a body’s response while in fight-or-flight mode accounts for 60 percent of all visits to physicians for all sorts of stress-related illnesses, including muscle tension and headaches, stomach problems and difficulties with sleep. If the stress and anxiety go on long enough, Nathan said, those who are predisposed to depression can become depressed.

Nathan, who has limited his practice to men and said he is getting more calls than ever, wonders whether the financial situation has emotionally impacted men more than women.

Nathan said his theory hasn’t been proven, but he wouldn’t be surprised because of the fact that men view themselves as providers.

People who have lost their jobs may see the elimination of benefits such as health insurance, which means they won’t be getting psychotherapy if it is needed.

Nathan said many people already view psychotherapy as a luxury because of the large co-pays associated with the practice.

Stress can build up as people are looking to make financial cuts in their everyday lives. He said it’s important for people to not exacerbate precarious financial situations, which would in turn worsen their emotional responses.

“Don’t go under panic mode,” Nathan said. “The tremendous fluctuations in the stock market when thought of in terms of decades will even out. Right now, people may be over-responding and become vulnerable to stress-related illnesses.”

Similarly, George Brown of Guilderland, a financial consultant for Edward Jones who was also shopping at Mohawk Commons on Sunday, said he urges his clients to stay calm.

“Whenever the economy is disrupted there is a feeling of anxiety,” Brown said. “That’s why it is important to stress this feeling of calm.”

Brown said he isn’t overly worried about the economy and he isn’t worried about losing his job.

“People need to live within their means, and that’s true in good times and in bad,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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