Financial pressure leading cause of youth depression

By Thuy Quynh, My Y   September 12, 2023 | 06:00 am PT
The pressure to make money in this economic recession has many young people in Vietnam struggling with chronic stress and mental disorders.
Scores of young people in Vietnam are suffering financial pressure that has led to emotional and mental problems. Photo illustration by Freepik

Scores of young people in Vietnam are suffering financial pressure that has led to emotional and mental problems. Photo illustration by Freepik

Growing up with a rooted prejudice that men should be the breadwinner of the family and carry the monetary burden, 30-year-old Duc spent all of his time since graduating university on work instead of focusing on his romantic relationship. He eventually broke up with his five-year girlfriend to "pursue a career."

Confident in his expertise in the fields of information technology and stock trading, Duc started investing in the stock market. He did earn some profits in the beginning, but his investment portfolio started to reverse shortly afterwards.

He then quickly fell into the downward spiral of losing money investing, borrowing money from friends aiming to cover the losses, and continuing to lose that money again.

Duc ended up owing a total of VND2 billion ($83,100), not including his house mortgage. He started struggling with chronic insomnia, turned to alcohol for stress relief, cut down on his social connections, and then even occasionally began talking to himself.

He was eventually hospitalized last month and was diagnosed with depression by Dr. Tran Thi Hong Thu, vice president of the Hanoi-based Mai Huong Daytime Psychiatric Hospital.

Hoang, a married man with children, is another patient diagnosed with mental issues as a result of financial pressure.

Having to pay almost VND50 million a month on family living expenses, Hoang and his wife, a bank executive, often felt the heavy strain of financial pressure weighing on their lives. Though his wife often worked overtime and would regularly return home at 9 p.m., they still had to ask around to borrow money from their relatives and friends every time they encountered unexpected costs. The couple eventually began arguing about financial issues.

Hoang decided to quit his office job and established his own business to hopefully make more money, only to realize that running a company was not as easy as he expected. His business suffered losses and he couldn't even pay his employees' salaries despite the fact that he tried borrowing money from his connections to maintain his business' cash flow.

The man then suffered from insomnia, alcohol addiction, an eating disorder, and a resistance to communications with others. He underwent a health check-up last month and was diagnosed with depression.

According to Thu, broken down in terms of age, around 50% of the 100-200 patients at Mai Huong Daytime Psychiatric Hospital are "people of younger ages." In terms of the cause behind these patients' anxiety, financial reasons proved to be a popular root, with around 20% of all patients reporting that they were under such pressure. Many among these patients are white-collar workers and young businessmen.

Things are similar in southern Vietnam, where roughly 60% of patients at HCMC Psychiatric Hospital are under 30, said the hospital's Dr. Huynh Thanh Hien. The majority of this group of patients are students and young people who just started working professionally.

Alongside biological and genetic causes, Hien said that many of these patients are depressed because of their inability to adapt to unexpected events, which makes them more likely to fail to overcome hardships and feel hopeless when they encounter challenges to their plans of "getting rich."

"Many patients reported that they were under financial pressure as they saw their get-rich-quick dreams shatter when they lost their capital resources because of the ups and downs in the labor, stock and cryptocurrency trading markets," Hien said.

"That made them feel hopeless with their lives, which then led to depression and other mental disorders."

If not being treated in time, people with depression might have many things in their life sacrificed because of their situation, namely their social connections, relationships, physical and mental health, or even their own lives.

Doctors recommend that those under financial pressure seek help from their families or professional medical practitioners. According to Thu, symptoms of serious disorders could range from insomnia, exhaustion, and moodiness to eating disorders, a resistance to communication, or an over-reliance on alcohol, and especially suicidal thoughts.

Other suggestions to avoid stress caused by financial issues include thoroughly planning agendas to achieve goals, spending time on stress-relieving activities such as meditation and doing yoga, and talking to family members, friends, or coworkers.

"It is hard to avoid having financial burdens in this modern era," Thu said. "But you should not trade your mental health for financial fulfillment."

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