Social and psychological impacts of the economic recession
Beyond the unemployment, foreclosures, and credit freezes, there are other, perhaps more long-term, societal impacts of the current economic recession. There is for many in this recession a forced recognition of the fragility of the human economic condition.
Many families that had planned for their future, and that of their children, suddenly find that those dreams could well amount to nought, dashed to pieces against the rocks of an adjusted economic reality. There has been a societal readjustment inwhat the term normal economic conditions will be for the future. The frenzy of a consumerist greed may well have gone, perhaps for the better, but not without severe pain in the short to medium term.
The impact of the recession has quickly had a psychological impact, which has then caused physical symptoms and an increased load on the health services. There is also growing evidence that people are looking to increased alcohol consumption and mis-use of non-prescription drugs as releases to their depression. It appears that a life in some form of anesthetized state is better, for some, than the current reality.
Norwich Union Healthcare polled 200 GPs, 200 business leaders and 1,000 employees for its Health of the Workplace survey.
When the workers were asked about their illness, half said they were suffering from insomnia while a third said they were having migraines and 21% had anxiety attacks and palpitations.
Almost a third said they were drinking more and a fifth were smoking more. A third said they were comfort eating, and 11% said they were self-medicating with over-the-counter medicines.
Of the GPs questioned, almost half said they have seen their patients’ use of alcohol and drug increase, and 89% expect levels of depression and requests for anti-depressants to dramatically increase this year.
And more than nine out of 10 of the GPs and 80% of employers polled predicted that stress-related illnes
The structural adjustment of the Western economies has also impacted the developing nations. In these countries, reduced consumption from Western export markets negates the economic steps to self-sufficiency that many were taking, and has slid them back towards poverty. Such a backwards development trend will have multi-generational impact as children will be denied education and subsequent advancement due to the poverty of their parents. While the economic adjustment was required, it does have painful and long-term negative ramifications that will be felt around the world.
But seven months ago, the better life her family was crawling toward got yanked out of reach. After the U.S. financial crisis erupted thousands of kilometers (miles) away, the textile factory where she and her husband worked closed because orders dried up and credit tightened.
“It’s a distant dream since I lost my job,” she said. “I suffer mental depression.”
Radhakrishnan, 34, and her husband found new jobs as day laborers – she at a smaller textile factory and he as a welder. But their family income has plunged by nearly half, from $160 to $90 a month. Now they could lose their home and have to rely on the government for food.