Turbulent times

This week’s topic revolved around mental illness and different disorders. The book discussed anxiety and affective disorders, as well as schizophrenia.

Anxiety disorders, for instance, are characterized by individuals expressing and reacting to fear in the face of stimuli that people perceive “inappropriately” as threatening. These include panic disorders, agoraphobia (anxiety about situations where escaping or leaving would be difficult), social phobia or other specific phobias.

The number of anxiety disorders diagnosed has been increasing in many parts of at least the Western world, and the finance industry at large has not been void of this development. Jobs in some realms of finance, such as investment banking, are characterized by long working hours, fast-paced deadlines and often competitive social dynamics, all of which can induce pressure and stress. Even though the hallmark of anxiety disorders is the brain’s inappropriate stress response to a stressor, a high-stress environment, can be argued, could be likely to cause individuals to feel stress even when there is no apparent threat. There have been multiple cases (e.g. here and here) reported of employees in the banking sector suffering from anxiety or even depression and from time to time, harrowing incidents of suicides.

Furthermore, some research has been conducted on how exposure to the stock market – an individual’s involvement in buying stocks and consequently following the development of the stock price – induces anxiety. A particular piece of research studied the impact of exposure to the stock market on the mental health of Chinese participants, when the market was particularly turbulent. The research showed clear results of such exposure inducing anxiety, even when the stock prices were increasing.

It was great to read about the treatments for the different disorders and how these have advanced throughout the years. We wish the best of luck for the scientists working in these fields also for future discoveries!

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