Along with finances, outlook on life and optimism are casualties of Great Recession, survey says

The Great Recession has left Americans not only financially devastated, but emotionally overwhelmed as well.

More than three-quarters of Americans reported that they have significantly changed their outlook on life since the start of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, according to a poll conducted in late June by public opinion consultancy StrategyOne. Other disturbing findings:
  • 58% of those surveyed have reevaluated their approach to life since the recession began
  • 52% have become less hopeful about the future since the recession began
  • 49% now believe that, because of the recession, that they will probably fall short of their personal or professional goals
In addition, significant numbers of Americans report their temperaments and behaviors have changed - for the worse - since the recession began in December 2007:
  • 42% have become more easily angry or emotional since the recession began
  • 41% have become more depressed or are frequently sad since the recession began
  • 33% find themselves screaming or raising their voice more frequently since the recession began
  • 15% sought out assistance for mental health problems since the recession began
And a number of Americans are coping with the slow economy by drinking, smoking or using drugs more often.
  • 19% started drinking or smoking more
  • 6% started using illegal drugs or used them more often
In addition, many on the verge of significant life events - such as marrying, divorcing, having children or retiring - say they have postponed taking that step specifically because of financial considerations caused by the recession:
  • 27% of women 18 to 34 years old have delayed having a baby
  • 21% of those 55 years or older have postponed retirement
  • 18% of single Americans have postponed getting married or engaged
  • 9% of married Americans have delayed getting divorced
"There are a number of untold stories out of the 'Great Recession' - Americans changing their outlook on life, becoming less hopeful, and also putting off having a child or leaving a troubled marriage," said Bradley Honan, Senior Vice President of StrategyOne, who authored the study. "The impact of this recession on Americans can't be solely measured by job loss or how much value the stock market has lost. Instead, we must consider how much the emotional and psychological outlook of the country may have been substantially altered by what's happened."

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