25 Health Problems That are Growing in a Slow Economy

As the economy worsens, Americans have been reporting anxiety, depression and stress-related symptoms in increasing numbers. This is doubly problematic because those individuals bearing the brunt of these stress induced illnesses are also among the most likely not to have health insurance. Below are some of the most common health problems increasing as a result of a downturn in the American economy.

General Health Problems

In this sub-section you’ll find some of the most common health conditions which are being treated in higher numbers recently, along with their causes and treatments.

1. Stress: “Time” magazine identified stress at the leading health problem in the United States and undoubtedly this is the most correlated heath issue with economic woes. High levels of stress can lead to increased heart rate, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, ulcers, lower back pain, and more. Treatments for stress range from yoga to therapy to medication and differs per individual and stress level.

2. Overweight: A study: by the department of Health and Human Services has concluded that 32.7% of adults aged 20 and over in the United States are overweight. Job losses and work-related stress are often triggers of overeating and lead to weight gain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that these individuals are at a greater risk for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancers, and more.

3. Obesity: Those with a body mass index greater than or equal to 30.0 are considered to be obese. While obesity can be genetic, it is contributed to by the same workplace stresses that increase in a down economy. Obese individuals are at an increased risk for many health serious health conditions. Diet, exercise, and even surgery are among the treatments.

4. Extreme Obesity: A BMI of 40.0 or over defines extreme obesity. The number of obese Americans has jumped to 5.9% for adults, and is a relatively new phenomenon, a product of both our extremely sedentary lifestyle and contributed to by depression and workplace stress. These individual have a higher mortality rate and are at extreme risk for serious diseases. Gastric bypass surgery is a common treatment for this condition, along with diet and exercise.

5. Cold or Flu: The common cold is one of the most widespread sicknesses among Americans and is often triggered by short bouts with stress, such as that which might arise from falling behind in paying bills. Although a mild condition, it can lead to high fever, throat infections, and sinus issues. Flu can be caused by infections, change in working environment, exposure to heat, and many other reasons. It can be treated with medications and most individual recover in days.

6. High Cholesterol: High LDL or low HDL can be a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. This condition can be caused by an unhealthy diet. If changes in diet do not help cholesterol levels, a doctor should be consulted for medication.

7. Diabetes: This disease affects the body’s ability to use blood sugar for energy. The main types include type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Symptoms may include increased thirst and urination, blurred vision, and fatigue. Risk factors include family history, age, insulin resistance syndrome, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Treatments include lifestyle changes and medication. An individual with advanced diabetes may be required to have amputation surgery.

8. Heart Disease: Congenital and Peripheral Artery Disease can lead to serious health problems such as a heart attack or stroke. Those with high cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity are at higher risk for heart disease. The HeartHub has an array of resources for those suffering from this disease including tips for diet, exercise, warning signs, and more.

9. High Blood Pressure: Although it is estimated that one in three American adults have high blood pressure, most don’t know about it. Senior citizens and African Americans are most commonly affected by high blood pressure and should have theirs checked regularly. Ignoring high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure. It can be treated with diet, exercise, and medication.

10. Insomnia: This is a medical condition where the person suffers from sleeplessness. The most common reason for this is stress. The patient with insomnia also suffers from lethargy and tiredness. The sickness is curable and is treated by light medications.

11. Sinus Infection: Also a common health condition, this can cause pressure in the eyes, nose, cheeks, and could lead to the throat infection. It is mostly curable at its early stages with a doctor’s help and it does not impose serious threat to a person. However if the infection persists, a complete medical examination should be taken to avoid any serious issues.

Mental Health Disorders

These disorders affect an estimated 22% of American adults each year, and can be either directly or indirectly caused by a variety of effects of a depressed economy. Below are some of the most common disorders and addictions.

12. Depression: With many individuals losing their jobs and homes, depression is becoming more and more common. Symptoms include feelings of helplessness, loss of interest, changes in appetite, change in sleep patterns, fatigue, and more. Treatments can include medications, counseling, and lifestyle changes.

13. Anxiety and Panic Disorders: When anxiety, panic, or stress affect your everyday life, it is time to check with your doctor to see if you have a disorder. These are different from depression and must be treated as such. Different types of this disorder include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive, phobias, and others.

14. Postpartum Depression: This type of depression occurs in women who have recently given birth. It typically occurs in the first few months after delivery, but can happen within the first year after giving birth. The symptoms can also interfere with the mother’s ability to bond with her newborn.

15. Bipolar Disorder: This disorder is marked by severe highs and lows that can interfere with everyday life. At times it can even be dangerous. It usually begins in teens and young adults, equally affects all races, and can sometimes be connected to hormone levels.

16. Dysthymia: This is another mood disorder. People who have it may feel mildly depressed on most days over a period of at least two years. Their symptoms resemble major depression, but with less severity.

17. Seasonal Affective Disorder: This mental disease has symptoms that are seen with many major depressive episodes. The symptoms occur during certain seasons and define this type of depression. They can be related to summer, the holidays, or slow economy.

18. Smoking: Cigarette smoking is one of the most preventable causes of death in the United States. It is estimated to account for 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths. Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing several types of cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Atherosclerosis, and coronary heart disease

19. Alcohol: Abuse of alcohol manifests in unusual cravings, loss of control, physical dependence, and increased tolerance. Individuals with a family history of alcohol abuse are most at risk. Although there is no cure, it can be treated with counseling and a variety of medications.

20. Drug Abuse: In addition to alcohol or tobacco, someone affected by the slow economy may turn to cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, meth, or prescription medications. According to MedLinePlus, each year drug abuse results in around 40 million serious illnesses or injuries among people in the United States. It can also lead to homelessness, crime, or problems with keeping a job.


While it might not appear at first glance that cancer will increase with a depressed economy, stress is a major contributing factor in causing cancer, and early detection is a major preventative. When stress is up, and fewer people have access to regular healthcare because of layoffs and cuts in benefits a certain effect is increased cancer.

21. Skin Cancer: The most common type of cancer according to the National Cancer Institute is nonmelanoma skin cancer, with more than 1,000,000 new cases expected in the United States for 2008, representing about half of all cancers diagnosed in this country. Warning signs include changes in moles, birthmarks, or beauty marks and chronic spots or sores.

22. Lung Cancer: Including bronchus, new lung cancer cases in 2008 were estimated at 215,020. Lung cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. These abnormal cells do not carry out the functions of normal cells and can form tumors. Symptoms include coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, and many others.

23. Prostate Cancer: In 2008, an estimated 186,320 men were diagnosed with this disease. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the cure rate for prostate cancer is very high, with nearly 100% of men diagnosed at the local and regional stages being disease-free after five years. Screening can be performed quickly and easily in a physician’s office using two tests: the prostate-specific antigen blood test and the digital rectal exam.

24. Breast Cancer: 182,460 estimated women and men were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. Among the many risk factors of this cancer are age, family history, high estrogen levels, being overweight, and more. Women at higher risk should consult their doctor on more frequent screenings, risk lowering drugs, and preventive surgery.

25. Colorectal Cancer: Colon and rectal cancers are estimated to affect around 108,070 individuals in 2008. Individuals at risk for this cancer are over 50, have developed polyps, a high fat diet, family history, or have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Depending on the type and stage, treatments can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and monoclonal antibodies.

An individual who has lost or may lose their job might consider canceling their health insurance to save money. Many experts warn against this as these 25 conditions and others can be very costly to diagnose and treat. If you think you may have one of these health problems, see your doctor right away.

Find Pharmacy Technician Certification Programs Near You!