As the April 15 deadline for filing your federal income tax return approaches, financial stressors may be rearing their ugly little heads – in your head. Financial stress, especially exacerbated at tax time, can cause a host of mental health concerns that include anxiety and depression.
Mentally speaking, finances are a hot-button issue because they affect everyone. Add to that a seemingly mysterious, arbitrary, uncompromising, even threatening tax system, and people can feel powerless and without control.
“Financial stress affects us at a very basic level, leading to fears about loss of future security and feelings of lacking control,” says David M. Dranetz, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and physician at Texas A&M Physicians.
When those fears and feelings arise, the mind can cause the body some serious mental heartburn. For instance, Dr. Dranetz explains that financial stress has been linked not only to mental health concerns like depression but also to physical ailments including insomnia and unhealthy coping behaviors like drinking, smoking and overeating.
And, financial stress affects everyone.
“Often, it is best to try to accept the things beyond our control, taking things one day at a time instead of predicting the future,” Dr. Dranetz says. “The emotional support of others is also often helpful. We are not always as alone in dealing with a problem as we sometimes feel we are.”