Is the downturn of the sensex affecting your health?

Financial stress has always been one of the causes of depression; it is vital to understand how you can prevent getting the blues because of the current stock market scenario. Many psychiatrists and psychologists warn that the plunging figures of the sensex should cause depression and give tips on how to prevent this from happening.

“It takes about 6 months before people actually seek help from a psychiatrist. Before that they will seek help form their family, friends, then spiritual guru or their GP. When things get really bad then they get help from a mental health professional. I do not have new patients that have come solely due to the sensex downturn however some of my current patients do show signs of worrying about their financial well being,” says psychiatrist, Dr. Bhooshan Shukla.

Dr. Shukla urges people to actually take a pen and paper and write down their current financial statement including their assets and debt and make a plan. “This time should be used as an opportunity to learn and strengthen your position,” he says.

“Sound financial planning is important,” says Bharat Phatak, financial consultant. “It is important not have large debts and have some sort of safety net. Do not put the money you need for upcoming expenses such as education and marriages into equity. Also keep in mind that India is not in a recession like the US and our growth rate is still going to remain at least 7%,” says Phatak.

“Many people who are anxious about the sensex are well to do in spite of losses in the sensex. But the amount of money one needs is relative. Some people are worried about their job. Security is always a stressful issue. For so many years the economy has been booming. This slowdown is causing anxiety especially amongst the young; they have never seen bad times,” notes Dr. Shukla.

However there are measures that you can take to prevent or at least minimize this anxiety as well as this low feeling. Here are a few tips offered by mental health professionals:

Financial Planning

  • Take appraisal of the situation. Take a piece of paper and a pen and write down all your assets and current finances. Are things really that bad?
  • Make financial goals and budgets. Learn how to budget and stick to it.
  • Learn form this downturn. It is a good lesson, especially for those who have only seen boom times.
  • Use this time to strengthen you position. What is your plan of action? How can you be ready for the upswing?

Physical and Mental Well Being

  • Spend more time with family and friends. It makes you remember what is important.
  • Have gratitude. Think of all that you have.
  • Meditate. It works in giving you piece of mind.
  • Exercise. It stimulates the endorphins and is always a mood booster
  • Try a new hobby or revive a new one. What did you do as a child? What made you happy other than seeing your money grow? Make time for it.
  • Take a class. Self enrichment is the best investment you can make.
  • Go on a trip, a picnic. A change of scene and nature is always good for the soul.
  • Stay healthy. Eat a balanced diet.
  • Enjoy the arts, music, painting or literature.

These tips should be followed even if you do not have any financial troubles as part of healthy living. A person already in a depressed state will find it difficult to follow these steps.

“A person who is clinically depressed will not be able to do many of the items on this list,” says Dr. Amod Borkar, psychiatrist. According to Dr. Borkar if you are feeling very low all the time for 3-4 weeks and have lost interest in many things that you once had, such as meeting friends, your hobbies, etc. then it is time to seek medical help. We have been reading in the papers about suicides that happen because of financial problems. It is better to understand the symptoms of depression and get treated at the proper time,” says Borkar.

Learning how to cope seems to be the key to keeping a sound mind during these volatile times. Our inbuilt coping styles should be strengthened when times are good to ensure that we are strong during the bad times. According to Dr. Borkar our attitudes towards life for the most part are predetermined by our genes. But the important point to remember is that we all have to work on acquiring better attitudes and coping styles.

Can we teach ourselves to cope better and be happier? Positive Psychology is the most popular class at Harvard; a class that teaches how to become happy. Steps can be taken in order to live a more positive life. And a positive life leads to a happier life.

So remember the positive…the Indian economy is remains strong. The sensex is going to go up and down, your mood however does not have to swing along with it!

Published in Midday Mumbai October 19, 2008