Can Feeling Poorer Than Your Friends Impact Your Mental Health?

Feeling Poorer Than Your Friends Impacts Mental Health
  • A recent study revealed that feeling poorer than your friends can cause poor mental health.
  • An acute sense of poverty and social inequality can also hamper your close friendships and daily functioning.

The Long-term Impact Of Poverty

Long-standing research confirms that socioeconomic inequalities in society are significantly linked to an increased risk of poor mental health.

Particularly, people in poverty face persistent and frequent high levels of stress, financial insecurity, fear of crime, and poor hygiene conditions (like overcrowding or unsafe housing conditions).

Such difficult circumstances make them vulnerable to a wide range of mental health conditions like:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Gambling disorder
  • Hoarding disorder
  • Psychopathy and an inclination toward crime, etc.

Economic Inequality And Mental Health

Feeling poor can go beyond personal consequences and affect our social dynamics. Lacking a sense of economic equality comes with poor self-esteem and a dampened sense of self.

The affected person tends to draw a “social comparison” with others, particularly wealthier folks. Oftentimes, such a comparison results in negative psychological outcomes, comprising:

  • Chronic feelings of inadequacy
  • Poor self-worth
  • Social isolation

A withdrawal from society results in decreased aspects of family and peer support structures. This lack of family and neighborhood resources can lead to more stress, social discrimination and marginalization, stigmatization, and susceptibility to mental disorders.

Such circumstances often trigger criminal tendencies (like theft) to make ends meet and fraught social relationships.

Can Feeling Poorer Than Your Friends Affect Your Well-being?

While the lifetime consequences of poverty are well-known, social scientists have recently started studying how poverty impacts our identities and self-worth.

For instance, a study conducted at the University of Cambridge revealed that feeling poorer than one’s friends, particularly in adolescence, makes one more likely to develop lower self-esteem and a willingness to tolerate bullying.

In fact, adolescents who see themselves as poorer than their friends are 17% more likely to report being bullied or picked on.

The researchers remarked: “Adolescence is an age of transitions when we use social comparisons to make self-judgments and develop our sense of self. Negative judgments about ourselves can bias us to pay attention to information that reinforces a lack of self-worth, which has implications for mental health.

Balancing Friendships And Financial Awareness

Experts recommend that feeling a sense of economic equality among friends is associated with the best outcomes for mental health and social behavior.

Avoiding social comparisons, working towards accepting one’s immediate financial situation and labeling limitations, as well as attempting to better one’s financial security can be a good place to start. It is anyway better to focus on personal goals and happiness rather than material possessions and wealth.

Know More About –

  1. Depression
  2. Gambling Disorder
  3. Eating Disorders
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