Financial stress might cause physical pain, says a new study published in Psychological Science.
Feeling financially insecure linked with pain
Individuals experiencing financial problems might feel more physical pain than those who deem themselves financially secure. This might arise because of the feeling of not being in control of one’s life.
Lead researcher Eileen Chou from the University of Virginia explains that their study started off from the hypothesis that increasing economic insecurity observed in societies might be correlated with another spiralling trend entailing more and more complaints of experiencing physical pain. She says that 6 different studies have shown in the past that economic insecurity can promote physical pain, and decreased pain tolerance, such that the affected people feel the need to resort to painkillers.
Jobless people take more painkillers
Analysing data from a 2008-consumer-panel comprising 33,720 people led to the conclusion that households with jobless adults would spend 20% more on over-the-counter painkillers as opposed to those from households in which at least one adult was employed. Moreover, data from another study hinted at a correlation between economic insecurity and reported pain from the participants.
Recalling period of economic instability resulted in more pain
Yet another study made an exposé of how people remembering a time of economic instability would relate twice the amount of physical pain experience than those who related to an economically-stable period.
Uncertain job market and decreased pain tolerance
Other independent findings have drawn a parallel between the two variables: a lab-based research showed that participants requested to ponder over an uncertain job market had decreased pain tolerance as opposed to no change in pain tolerance among those considering a stable job market.
Feeling in control or not plays an important role
It is also said that the extent to which the participants of these studies felt they were in control of their lives supported the link between the reports of physical pain and the subjective perspective on economic insecurity.
Chou and her team write that when these results are taken into consideration together, it can be concluded that subjective interpretation of one’s own economic security has important consequences that are “above and beyond those of objective economic status“.
“By showing that physical pain has roots in economic insecurity and feelings of lack of control, the current findings offer hope for short-circuiting the downward spiral initiated by economic insecurity and producing a new, positive cycle of well-being and pain-free experience,” conclude the researchers.