6 Signs That You've Gotten M.A.D. (Money Anxiety Disorder)

 By: Hollis Colquhoun
The American Psychological Association conducted a survey in late 2008 and found that 80% of the people who responded said that the financial crisis was causing them a significant amount of stress.

Anxiety over money issues has produced a new ailment that is affecting a large part of the population, particularly women. Psychology professionals have named this affliction: Money Anxiety Disorder.

Women tend to be more highly stressed about money issues because in general they are not the major breadwinners; they are the care-givers, concerned about their family's future and well-being. And, in relationships, there usually isn't an open and equal financial partnership between husband and wife.

Financial issues are the primary cause of conflict and divorce among couples. As the economy continues to struggle with high unemployment, tight credit, low housing values and high foreclosure rates, couples are struggling to cope with financial problems and M.A.D. behavior.

The following are six tell-tale symptoms indicating you have gotten M.A.D.:

1. You have an overall sense of fear or dread thinking about money.
2. You are in a panic about your husband's or your job security and income.
3. You have a constant fear that your financial safety net (retirement and emergency savings) will disappear forever.
4. There's a feeling of confusion, anxiety and shame about your lack of financial knowledge and awareness.
5. You feel angry about the lack of communication between you and your partner regarding your personal finances.
6. All financial discussions between you and your partner quickly turn into arguments.

4 Ways to Overcome M.A.D. mania:

1. Money and money matters aren't scary, they're just math. Not knowing anything is scary. Tell your husband that you are afraid and concerned about your health (because you are anxious all the time) and that you would like to sit down with him to go over the numbers together. Set a day and time for a "money date." Gather together (ideally with his help) all of the household statements and bills so you can create a monthly budget and "cash-flow statement" during your date. A "cash-flow statement" is just what it sounds like, a calculation of the money or income coming into the household measured against the money going out or expenses, just like a math equation. If there's more money coming in than going out there's a positive balance which can be turned into savings. If the balance is negative then either income has to go up or expenses have to go down. Knowledge is power. Once you have the facts and numbers you can develop open communication and build a strategy together. Following a clear financial plan with your husband will eliminate a lot of your anxiety and fear.

2. Contact a NON-PROFIT credit counseling agency if you're faced with a large amount of debt and not enough income to support basic expenses and monthly loan payments. A counselor will review your budget, income, assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe) then offer solutions and resources. To locate legitimate non-profit agencies go to NFCC.org (National Foundation for Credit Counseling) or AICCCA.org (Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies).

3. Understand that the market goes up and down and up. Certainly investments can lose value on paper but it isn't a realized loss until you sell them. Focus on what you can control in your finances and take a longer view of the market. As Warren Buffett said: "We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful." If you have one, speak to your financial advisor or retirement plan manager about your concerns. To get a wide range of information on finance-related topics and available resources go to MyMoney.gov.

4. De-stress by going for a walk or exercising in any way you like. Anxiety can take a physical toll on your heart, head and on neck, back and shoulder muscles. The temptation is to sit and stew but that won't help either your mind or your body. Meditation, yoga and hypnosis are also ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
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