Does how we feel about financial strain matter for mental health?

Sarah D. Asebedo, Melissa J. Wilmarth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This study investigated how stress responses to financial strain are related to mental health (i.e., depression) to answer the question: Does how we feel about financial strain matter? Informed by the ABC-X model of family stress and analyzed with data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), results reveal that financial strain is significantly related to increased depression; however, financial stress was found to moderate this relationship. Financially strained respondents without a stress response did not have significantly different depression scores than those who were not experiencing financial strain; however, depression scores increased as the stress response to financial strain increased. Consistent with the ABC-X model, results suggest that financial strain is a neutral event until it is processed and interpreted by an individual, with subjective perceptions a more powerful predictor of mental health than objective financial circumstances. These results emphasize an area of synergy for financial and mental health researchers and professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-78
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Financial Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • Depression
  • Financial strain
  • Financial stress
  • Financial stressors
  • Mental health


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