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Is Anxiety Controlling Your Actions?

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I don’t want to belittle the condition of the economy currently. Someone who is close to retirement may have just lost a significant portion of their intended source of income if invested solely in stocks. If you listen to the media and politicians, you might get the impression that the American public is “freaking out” about their money right now and experiencing the downstream effects of high anxiety.

The Today Show’s Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist, recently appeared on this show and claimed that stress due to money has increased “hundredfold.” The video clip also describes people’s current attitudes as a “state of panic” and “intense fear.”

Dr. Saltz admits that “watching the media constantly is a terrible idea, like being stuck with needles.” That’s a great comment to hear on a popular television show. She also says that more people now will be seeking professional help for their anxiety due to the economic downturn.

I haven’t seen much evidence of panic in my daily interactions, other than what I hear on the radio from politicians. Long term prospects are likely to still be good. I can imagine that panic might set in when someone has their entire portfolio investments tied up in companies that failed or someone set to retire and rely on investment income, but that should serve as a reminder to have an asset allocation appropriate for your needs and reduce exposure to risky investments like stocks when you are relying on the money being available.

Are you panicking or anxious about money right now? Is your financial situation affecting other aspects of your life? Also, do you think the media are accurately portraying people’s attitudes? Share your thoughts, anonymously if you like.

If you want to watch the Today Show clip, it’s available inside this article. RSS readers, please view this article on Consumerism Commentary to view the video.

Again, today’s questions: Are you panicking or anxious about money right now? Is your financial situation affecting other aspects of your life? Also, do you think the media are accurately portraying people’s attitudes?

Published or updated September 30, 2008.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

I’m not panicking, but like most people I am worried. I’m one of those people living on the bubble and if something happened to my husband’s job we’d probably be up that special creek without a paddle.

I definitely think the news sensationalizes everything….panic sells!

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avatar 2 Anonymous

Yep, i am reaching for the panic button.

About to have my drivers license suspended due to non payment, simply because i haven’t had the money to pay them, and i am a month behind in rent and will have to move out to God only knows where if things don’t improve real quick like.

So then the anxiety sets in and clouds the mind, affecting decision making in turn making things worse.

I need help.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

I’m not panicked at all, nor worried. Of course, I’m still pretty young and have relatively little in investments linked to the stock market. I’d prefer the economy tanking now than 10 or 20 years down the road if this bailout passes and sets a precedent for nationalizing other large industries. I’m sorry for you guys that lost a lot in the last few days.

Take your mind off the economy by watching the two babes on the left in the video if you haven’t already. Who are they?

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avatar 4 Anonymous

I was motivated by anxiety and fear to dump the majority of my stocks, and had mixed feelings about it because it is not something I expected to want to do. Now I feel much better, and wouldn’t hesitate to reinvest later if I felt that conditions were pretty much as they always have been in the past. I don’t mind short-term stock investments, and the ones I’d previously made minimized the impact of selling.

I think one’s financial position always effects every aspect of life. One should act in accordance with his particular position. I recently got a prediction from someone that gas would rise to $8 per gallon by the end of October, and other prices could triple. Since I respect the person, and also have nothing to lose, I am stocking up on whatever I can. Back when there were dire predictions related to the year 2000, I took no action in response to those who said to stock up. I suppose I’m not alone in feeling vulnerable right now. I’m not really worried about our current financial position, but my husband is worried about all the talk of layoffs from the media. Personally, I have never believed in job security when one has an employer, and I’m not overly anxious about it now.

I don’t know if the media accurately portrays people’s attitudes, as I haven’t watched all that much of what they are putting out.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

I’ve stayed fully invested in my both my 401(k) and my personal trading account. I’ve been around long enough to have seen the crash in 1987.

I highly recommend staying fully invested and continuing your investment plan whatever that might be. The current economic problems are definitely far worse that any I’ve seen previously, but blind panic will not help.

If you can, build up your cash cushion and continue any automatic investment plans. If you feel the need to tinker with your investments, consider limiting the changes to your allocation percentages. To help build up your larder consider stocking up your freezer and pantry with items you would normally use that go on sale.

Brian ~aka Glymmar

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avatar 6 Anonymous

I’m not freaking out about money but I am anxious about my job. I just got a mortgage this year and I’ve been worrying about making the note payments.

I THINK that my job is secure but you never know.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

No anxiety here. I am watching my holdings a bit closer, but I’m confident that the decisions I made before this market turmoil began are sound. As far as the media’s reporting, I would say that they like to create fear along with those who run the country at the moment. Not long ago, Henry Paulson was saying that economic fundamentals in the United States were strong and there wasn’t much to worry about. This month he’s asking for $700 billion dollars. The people I speak to are concerned more with the $700 billion bailout passing, than with the market itself.

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avatar 8 Anonymous

I’m a little surprised to be able to say this, but I’m not anxious at all. I’m concerned and cautious. My financial life is not yet in perfect order, of course, nor is it perfectly stable, but it’s finally in a good place and I can be assured of progress for at least a few more months. I’m prepared for six months of unemployment if need be, and continue to batten down the hatches as I have been doing for the past few years.

This maelstrom is unpleasant and wreaking a bit of havoc on my retirement portfolio but I’m not going to start dumping funds in panic.

I’m very glad that I’ve been working so hard to save and reduce expenses, it seems very much more worth it now in this uncertain environment.

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avatar 9 Anonymous

I recently read an article that said more women were signing up at a website in the UK where you can set up an affair with a married person discretly. (Monthly fee is about $200!) The article speculated that women are withdrawing from their husbands who have become so anxious over their jobs and their families’ finances. This is entirely possible. But it is equally possible that this website was using the crisis to promote its own business.

I have been very concerned about the financial and economic state of the US for a while. Therefore, I have moved my retirement portfolio into a more conservative mode which has protected me somewhat. But at the moment it does not matter which way you turn, since every investment is bad. Take the most “conservative” one, the money market. Aside from actual losses on holdings, a return of 2 or 3% (before taxes) leaves you in the minus once you take the official consumer price at around 5.5% into consideration. At times like this you just buckle down and wait it out. Hopefully you will be in a good enough financial state to take advantage of the rebound which will come along at some point again. It may be a couple years or more away, but things will get better again.

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avatar 10 Anonymous

Anxiety, yes, Panic, no.

Intellectually, I know I’ll survive this and that with time, my investments will recover, and although I have cut back on my expenses, I’m still making more than I spend.

However, I have no faith in myself, resulting in constant anxiety that impacts my performance at work, and creates more anxiety.

My doctor gave me a prescription for alprozolam (generix Xanex), and that’s all that gets me through some days.

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