How does Economic Inflation affect Stress?

Inflation is defined as the rise in prices across a broad range of products and this affects the quality of life (Donovan, 2015). During Covid-19, people were adamant about going back to the way things were pre-covid. However, the post-pandemic world is very different from the original way things ran. Research has shown that an estimated 10% of people, in the post-pandemic world will suffer severe psychological problems such as PTSD, mood disorders, or anxiety-related disorders (Galatzer-Levy, Huang, & Bonanno, 2018). One of the contributors to people’s anxiety is inflation. According to Consumer Price Inflation (2022), the inflation rate in the UK was 8.8 % in July 2022, the highest since December 1990. When you combine this with high unemployment rates, it can lead to mental health issues. Inflation affects the less privileged groups in society such as the retired, the semi-skilled and unskilled workers, and low-education members. Unemployment is usually a risk for the poor and white-collar workers are not as impacted (Caplovitz, 1981).

The recent 2021-2022 inflation surge has various literature underway, but a literature review by Frasquilho et al (2016) has brought forward various research from the 2008 recession which looked at the mental health of people and how it was affected at the time. It is theorized that economic pressure and unemployment have a devastating impact on families, in particular children, since the family is the most important context for their healthy development. What they brought forward is as follows:

  1. Mental health and self-rated health were negatively affected by unemployment during the economic recession

  2. Psychological distress significantly increased during the recession period, with a greater impact on men compared to women.

  3. There is a significant rise in depression when compared with pre- and post-economic recession

  4. In Spain, evidence displayed a risk of suffering from depression during a recession that was three times higher than before.

  5. Binge-drinking became more prevalent

  6. Recession may have triggered alcohol-related disorders, since a noteworthy rise of 4.6% in the abuse of alcohol and dependence was observed

  7. Unemployed men reported a post-recessionary increase in suicidal behaviors.

  8. The recession in 2008 caused most of the European population to experience a significant rise in suicide rates of 6.5% while 4.5% of Canada and 4.8% of USA

  9. High unemployment rates are linked to individuals worsened mental well-being and higher mental distress levels

  10. Least developed countries report a negative impact on suicide as a result of unemployment during a recession

  11. Increased incidence of anxiety and mood disorders, and substance use disorders were strongly associated with drops in household incomes

  12. People reporting low levels of wealth have three times greater distress than those reporting higher levels of wealth

  13. A study also demonstrates that housing payment problems and indebtedness have a detrimental effect on mental health and on the onset of depression and anxiety

  14. Low socioeconomic status was related to higher rates of tobacco smoking and the use of cannabis and other illegal drugs compared to people of higher socioeconomic status

  15. Economic stress can lead to deterioration in children’s mental health, mainly through changes in family relationships and parenting quality

  16. Countries before and after crisis found. That individuals with mental health problems were more vulnerable to losing their employment than those without these problems.

  17. Discriminatory attitudes towards people with chronic mental health conditions may harden, both in the job market and in society, further increasing their suffering and isolation

  18. After a recession, negative associations with mental health are reported with increased mental health problems.

  19. There are very limited number of studies from low and middle-income countries despite the fact that there are strong reasons to believe that these countries are likely to be heavily affected by the recession, especially because any further reductions in these countries’ already weak health budgets.

  20. Recession periods are feasibly associated with the increased prevalence of psychological distress and common mental disorders, substance disorders, and ultimately suicidal behavior.

  21. Smoking and illicit substance use since the literature indicated this may be a coping mechanism used to help deal with unemployment and economic distress

In conclusion, inflation can really impact the mental health of individuals, especially those who belong to a lower socioeconomic background. Together with high unemployment rates, this can lead to substance use disorders that can damage the economy further due to less productivity. To improve this, countries ought to improve their levels of well-being and provide cost-effective healthcare to their citizens that can contribute to a more productive economy. It is not surprising that stress levels have been rising during the pandemic, therefore, it is important for us to be kind to ourselves as our economy continues to heal.


Caplovitz, D. (1981). Making ends meet: How families cope with Inflation and Recession. The

ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 456(1), 88-98.

Consumer Price Inflation, UK: August 2022 (2022, September 14). Office for National Statistics.

Donovan, P. (2015). The Truth About Inflation (1st ed). Routledge.

Frasquilho, D., Matos, M. G., Salonna, F., Guerreiro., Storti, C. C., Gasper, T., & Caldas-de-

Almeida, J. M. (2016) Mental health outcomes in times of economic recession: a systematic

literature review. BMC Public Health, 16(115), pp. 1-40.

Galatzer-Levy, I., Huang, S. H., & Bonanno, G. A. (2018). Trajectories of resilience and

dysfunction following potential trauma: A review and statistical evaluation. Clinical Psychology

Review, 63, 41-55.

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