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Psychological Impact of the Pandemic: Part Two

Dr. Brian Stagner, TPA Director of Professional Affairs, Associates for Applied Psychology


This four-part series is offered to summarize what we know about the psychological responses to the present crisis. It covers the effects of quarantine and the effects of economic downturns, how to help clients and the public, and concludes with ways to lead during and after the pandemic.


Part Two


The Effects of Financial Stressors

None of this is your fault. People make self-attributions. It may be cognitive, like “I should have been better prepared” or unarticulated emotions including guilt, shame, or rage. Many people will not volunteer that they are experiencing these feelings: the implicit assumption is some combination of “I deserve this” and “others have it worse”, and the suffering festers.

It is well established that suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence, and psychiatric disintegration increase during economic crises. We will see increases in acting out, but many people will turn inward, retreating from the benefits of social interaction that might temper depression and anxiety.

Displaced workers may have to take less desirable jobs than they had prior to the pandemic and for lower wages. Service workers and workers in the gig economy are the most vulnerable, but small business owners are starting to feel financial and emotional pressures as well. While everyone hopes that the pandemic will be short-lived and that the government’s economic stimulus efforts will be adequate, there is a great deal of uncertainty. As we know, any stressful situation is made much worse by the loss of control over one’s circumstances.


Dr. Brian Stager is the Director of Professional Affairs at the Texas Psychological Association. He also serves as an American Psychological Association Council Representative. He is a therapist in Bryan/College Station.


Read Part Three

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