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How The Great Recession affected your emotional health
The Great Recession has shaped up to be one of the defining factors of the millennial generation, even when it comes to mental health. - photo by JJ Feinauer
The Great Recession has shaped up to be one of the defining factors of the millennial generation.

The fact that young adults came of age during a time of substantial economic turmoil has influenced how they manage their money, how they view their career choices and, apparently, the state of their mental health.

The latter assertion a little more counterintuitive, especially because recent research suggests the recession was actually good for Americas emotional well-being.

According to new research published by PLOS ONE, both men and women saw a drop in clinical depression rates during and after the recession.

One possible explanation is what some researchers have hypothesized and shown that during economic downturns, there is more leisure time to spend on family, friends, and exercise, which may decrease the likelihood of depression, researchers Rada K. Dagher, Jie Chen and Stephen B. Thomas wrote in the study.

The researchers were surprised by the results, which they assumed would confirm that the stress and anxiety typically associated with money troubles would see widespread increases during the recession. The fact that the opposite occurred left them puzzled, but as indicated earlier, they arent without explanations.

Besides just the opportunity to spend more time with family, the researchers also suggest that social protection programs likely helped to alleviate economic stress. Programs such as unemployment compensation, debt relief programs, and social welfare that were strengthened during the recession years are cited specifically.

Interestingly, the study also found that women saw an increase in depression after the recession despite the decrease during, something that men overall didnt experience.

This research contradicts some of the findings in a study published by The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. While the Stanford researchers found that at the aggregate level, health does not decline in any precipitous way when the economy does, they did find evidence to support the idea that due to the recession serious psychological distress is rising, especially among 25- to 44-year-olds (the study was published in 2012).

That study, however, does note that at least among children, levels of reported emotional problems have not changed much recently, and that there is only limited support for a link between recessions and depressive symptoms, again at the population level."
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