The past year has been very hard for a lot of people. From kids missing their friends and activities at school, to adults struggling financially, to seniors concerned about the health threats facing them, it seems like, for many, stress levels are higher than they have ever been.
For some, these feelings go beyond just being lonely, sad or concerned, and shift to something far more serious. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study shows a nearly 400% increase in the number of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders compared to 2019 levels.
An even larger number of young adults (ages 18-24) have reported these symptoms (56%) compared to all adults (41%). The study also shows a doubling of young adults who have reported suicidal thoughts when compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
Because of the stigma often attached to mental illness I would guess the actual numbers are even higher than is being reported. However, unlike those suffering from Covid, those struggling with this kind of illness often go unnoticed or untreated until it’s too late.
While this study did not specifically breakdown seniors as a subgroup, I have no doubt that they too are being disproportionately impacted by mental health issues brought about by the pandemic. More than any other group, seniors have faced unprecedented dangers from Covid. From the loneliness that comes from being isolated during lockdowns, to drastic changes in their retirement accounts brought about from a shaky economy, to the threat of serious physical harm from the virus itself, it is understandable why many seniors could be suffering from mental illness right now.
As financial advisors one of the things we are tasked with doing is calming the fears of clients during volatile markets. These fears can be especially pronounced after an individual has retired and their future depends on making what they have saved last the rest of their lives. If left untreated these fears of not having enough can often morph into something far more devastating.
The perils of mental illness are not something to be taken lightly. I can say this with a certain level of understanding because I am someone who has struggled with mental illness in the past. While my condition is less severe than what many face, there have been times in my life when anxiety has gotten the best of me. Luckily, I have loved ones around me who were able to convince me to seek treatment. Through a combination of therapy and medication I am proud to say I feel I have it under control and it no longer hinders me from living a normal and happy life.
If you are someone feeling very nervous about the stock market or what the future holds for you financially, I would encourage you to speak to a financial professional. They can help determine if your concerns are justified or not. It’s something we often do for our clients and would love the opportunity to talk to you. Because our advice is rooted in our Christian faith many find just talking about their financial concerns with us to be beneficial.
If you are already at the stage where you feel panic or severe anxiety, about what the future holds I would plead with you to seek psychological help. Without addressing the root cause of these feelings they will never get better and usually get worse.
Remember, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but actually a sign of wisdom and humility.