Being Broke Can Actually Cause You Physical Pain, Study Reveals


Not having enough money can cause you physical pain, according to new research.

Published in the journal Psychological Science, the research conducted by lead author Eileen Chou of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and her colleagues found that there is a positive relationship between financial instability and and physical pain, reports Medical News Today.

The researchers conducted a total of six studies over the course of several years after finding that economic insecurity and physical pain had both increased over the past decade.

“Overall, our findings reveal that it physically hurts to be economically insecure,” the researchers write. “Results from six studies establish that economic insecurity produces physical pain, reduces pain tolerance, and predicts over-the-counter painkiller consumption.”

For their first study in 2008, the team analyzed data from a diverse consumer panel of 33,720 U.S. adults. They found that households with two unemployed adults spent 20 percent more money on over-the-counter painkillers than those households with at least one employed adult.

“Individuals’ subjective interpretation of their own economic security has crucial consequences above and beyond those of objective economic status,” the researchers write.

An online study afterward found that out of 187 participants, those individuals who were unemployed and financially insecure on a state level were more likely to report physical pain than those who were employed and financially stable.

Another online study conducted by the team found that subjects who were asked to think of a period of economic insecurity in their lives reported nearly twice the amount of physical pain than subjects who recalled an economically stable period.

The team of researchers also linked financial insecurity and pain tolerance. Students who were asked to think about entering a stable job market in a lab-based study were able to keep their hands in a bucket of ice water longer than those students who thought about entering an unstable job market.

The researchers concluded by saying their findings that physical pain is rooted in economic insecurity should “offer hope for short-circuiting the downward spiral initiated by economic insecurity and producing a new, positive cycle of well-being and pain-free experience.”

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