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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Facing Economic Stress: women are taking it harder than men.

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 3rd 2008

 The bad news is everywhere and there is no way to escape it. The world wide economy is in trouble. Banks are closing, big corporations are going out of business, the stock market is taking a beating and that is affecting everyone's retirement benefits and the job market is looking gloomy.

Multiple surveys are showing that Americans are worried, anxious and experience huge amounts of stress. The American Psychological Association(APA) is reporting that, while both men and women are worried and showing symptoms of that worry, women are worse off.

Stephanie Smith, Psy.D. of the APA, states that women are more aware of their struggles and more willing to talk about their feelings, as compared to men, that causes them to appear more distressed than men. In addition, those women in traditional roles of caretaker of home and children may cause them to feel more of the burden of this crisis.

Among the stress symptoms exhibited by these women are eating poorly, engaging in excessive shopping, feeling more tired than usual, napping excessively, returning to smoking, increasing drinking, experiencing shortness of breath, increase in headaches, short temperedness and difficulty sleeping, among many other symptoms.

The fact is that everyone reacts to stress differently and there is no list that holds true for every person. Also, it is important to keep in mind that stress symptoms hold true for men as well as women and that they experience this worry and tension almost as much as women.

The APA suggests some of the following strategies to cope with this economic stress:

1. Do not panic.
2. Husband and wife make a plan to cope with finances and spending.
3. Do not give up health care. In fact, during times like these, it is more important than ever to take good care of yourself, your partner and your children by regular medical visits.
4. Do not eliminate that aerobics class and be sure to keep it going.
5. Continue social activities such as the book club, etc.
6. Go to a credit counseling company to help negotiate with creditors.
7. Call creditors and banks and negotiate realistic payments, reductions in interest rates and length of time to pay back bills. Now, more than ever, with a huge increase in defaults, these companies are more than willing to help people avoid default.
8. Take classes that can help you learn new skills to enable you to get a better job. Many people are going to Junior Colleges just for this purpose. Tuition is low, the Junior Colleges will prepare you for a career in a skill area.
9. As the APA suggests, use this time to think "outside the box" in order to find solutions for yourself and your family.

Also, read the excellent articles written by our own Elisha Goldstein, PhD on stress and how to cope with it. Our Self Help Section is also highly recommended.

Your comments are welcome

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

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