Denied Life Insurance because of Anxiety?

The answer is yes you can be, and it’s alarming to say the least. As many of you know I am a finance professional and I believe that if you have the means, life insurance is a good investment particularly if you have a family. So, you get an application for life insurance, do you tell them you have an anxiety disorder?

Ethically and morally the answer is yes you do, lying isn’t a good thing in most situations. Financially and strategically? No, you don’t because you can be denied the insurance if you have an anxiety disorder. A couple in Ontario are dealing with that reality right now.

Quote from the article:

“Fairly common practice

Vicki Zhang, who works in statistical science at the University of Toronto, said “it’s a fairly common” industry practice for insurers to penalize those with pre-existing conditions, whether they are physical or mental.

“The private insurance sector has become very, very competitive and very profit-driven,” said Zhang. “From their bottom-line perspective, it makes sense for them not to cover someone with mental illness … especially a known condition.”

Now obviously insurance companies want to make money. You pay a premium and they are betting that you don’t have to use the product. The gain or loss for them is in volume, meaning they insure 100 people and 10 people use it, the other 90 essentially covered the 10. It’s a good business model built on a less than noble premise that people are willing to pay money to insure against negative outcomes.

Some people, and those of us with anxiety especially, worry a lot about things we can’t control. We are perfect candidates for insurance. That said, you can be denied if you have an anxiety disorder or must pay more for coverage due to the risk. Is that fair?

From a business stand point it is, Anxiety disorders at the extreme can lead to death. The real problem is the factors that lead up to an extreme outcome are hard to forecast for anxiety disorders. Its not like a heart condition, where the person may be obese. If you have a family, you should have life insurance. My father died when I was young, and we didn’t have enough insurance and my mother lost the house.

We all came out of it okay, but it was hard for a year or two. If you have life insurance, great! if you don’t and are considering it, remember the best practice is to be honest. If you are denied coverage from one carrier (like the example in the article) it doesn’t mean you will be denied by another. Life insurance is peace of mind for you and your family, we all die we just don’t know when it will happen.

You are doing great though, one issue at a time, one day at a time.

Anxiety Relief – Emergency bag for your car.

As suffers of anxiety we need to look for ways to relieve it where ever we can. IF you are like me you spend a good portion of your life in a car. Driving to work, to school, to mom’s house whatever it is you are away from home and thus away from your primary base. Everyone should have an emergency bag in their car. This should include some obvious items, but also include 5 critical items you will likely think are excessive, but you still need them, you never know what might happen.

So, 5 obvious things you should have:

  1. A change of clothes
  2. A flashlight
  3. A blanket
  4. Jumper cables
  5. Water

So why those 5? Most situations where you break down, you will likely be able to call someone on your cell phone and aid should come if not minutes, in hours. These 5 items will keep you warm, keep you hydrated, give you light to see and provide a means to restart the car (if it needs a jump). These are basics you should have these.

What happens in extreme situations? Example: you go off the road and the car are in a ditch with no cell phone coverage. Example: you are snow bound to your car and in a blizzard. You are car jacked, assaulted and then left somewhere the assailant took your keys. “No way Karac, that’s not going to happen”. Every one of the scenarios I listed has happened to people, if it can happen to them it can happen to you.

Here are 5 critical items you should have:

  1. A lighter or matches
  2. A utility knife
  3. A whistle
  4. A first aid kit
  5. Cell phone charging cords and external chargers

Bad things happen to good people. Life is unfair and often unkind, you may never need any of these things.  Here is a story of one woman who was missing for a week, stuck on a snow bound road.

She was prepared, perhaps overly so. If something like this happened to you how long could you survive? While its likely nothing like this will ever happen, having peace of mind with anxiety is wonderful. Put a small bag of these items in the trunk of your car and hope you never need them.

Red Wine for depression?

A wise person once said, “everything in moderation”. I know from personal experience that wine in moderation is the best way to enjoy it as it packs one hell of a wallop the deeper into the bottle you go…

I found a really interesting article about how Red Wine may help with depression and anxiety. Basically grape skins contain a compound called Resveratrol, which in some studied have shown to have an antidepressant activity in mice and rats. I know not a lot to go on but it’s great that tests are ongoing.

The first thing we must do is be honest about depression and anxiety. From the article “Experts still do not fully understand what causes depression and why it affects some people but not others. One theory is called the glucocorticoid hypothesis. The body releases glucocorticoids, which include cortisol, when a person feels stressed. In the short term, these hormones help ready the body for an impending crisis.

However, if the stress lasts for a longer time, glucocorticoids can begin to cause harm. In this way, some scientists believe that chronic stress damages neurons in the hippocampus, which are particularly sensitive. This damage then paves the way for anxiety and depression.”

Right now, most of the drugs that doctors prescribe for depression and anxiety interact with serotonin or noradrenaline pathways in the brain. While red wine might not be the end of anxiety and depression, the pathing in which resveratrol takes is different then the interaction with serotonin and noradrenaline.

Right now, I bet your eyes are glossing over. The article is technical and links back to some clinical studies, it’s a decent read if you are into that thing. The bottom line is red wine has many benefits along with taste (if that’s your thing). Alcohol consumed in moderation is okay for people with depression and anxiety. The trick is not relying on the substance to provide you relief of your symptoms.

For those that don’t want to drink Alcohol, there are plenty of supplements on the market that have grape skin, and grape seed extract in them.

Anyway, anything that might help is worthy of a small-time investment. Take a look and remember, one day at a time.

School is right around the corner, so is anxiety.

Are you a parent? Do you have younger siblings? Are you an aunt or an uncle? Chances are you have kids in your life at some level. If you suffer from anxiety you are keenly aware of some of the debilitating issues that comes with it. You are also uniquely qualified to help those kids BECAUSE you have anxiety.

If you recall your school days (or maybe you’re still there) there are all sorts of social pressures around your peer’s. I’m not professing to understand the modern teenager at 50, but I have kids I do know what they go through. Things are different now, kids don’t meet at the mall (hi all my Gen X friends, remember those days? See you at orange Julius) they meet online.

The digital world is cruel, people hide in anonymity with screen names and post messages to others they would never say to someone’s face. Remove the adult filter and kids are worse. On top of that teenagers are starting to experience hormonal shifts that come with puberty and these swings can amplify anxiety.

On top of that, kids today are more tapped into the real world because they are online so much. Mass shootings? Your teenager knows all about it. Opioid epidemic? Your kids have seen it online. All of this can trigger anxiety and if you have it and these are your children its likely they inherited some of their issues from you.

Here is a great article I found that goes over a lot of the issues. There is no “fix all” but there are 3 important things you can do with kids of any age that will help them navigate anxiety.

  1. Talk to them: I know every says talk to your kids. Really take the time to do this, particularly on current events. Its critical they have a venue other then their peers to talk about the issue.
  2. Invest in what they love. If your kid is a gamer, try playing some games yourself. If your kid is a soccer player, take them to the soccer field. Whatever they are into, start investing your time into it too.
  3. Listen and watch them when they are online: This is critical as so much interaction happens online now.

School is right around the corner and kids will get anxiety. Start building the foundation now so if needed you can help the child later. You can do this, they are totally worth it!

If you have Anxiety you must talk about money.

“Money is the root of all evil” You’ve probably heard this saying many times in your life. In fact, it is a misquote from the bible. This passage, based on a letter from the Apostle Paul to a young pastor named Timothy says, “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” Without the word “love,” the verse takes on a completely different meaning and gives the impression that money in and of itself is evil.

Money isn’t evil, its necessary. For those of us with anxiety it can be one of the things that cripple us. The worst part is, it’s not just people with Anxiety but many American’s are having issues with money. I understand this blog isn’t exclusive to the U.S., there are people all over the world that have visited but let this quote sink in a bit about Americans and money.

“A large number of Americans today are behind on emergency savingsshort on retirement funds, and buried in credit card debt. And a frightening 75% live paycheck to paycheck.” Source:

We aren’t talking about money enough. To be blunt many people spend more time on their star bucks’ orders then they do on their personal finance. As individuals with anxiety we can’t do that. We have the added stressor of being pulled into the vacuum/pit of anxiety on a moments notice. Its random for many of us, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks you name it.

Money is just another trigger, but by addressing it we can minimally have a better relationship with our own personal economy. As a reader of my blog you know I work in the finance field and I have promised not to go to deeply into the weeds on finance. That said I am imploring you to talk about money. Parents, siblings and spouses are great choices for people to talk to.

If you are having money issues, having someone to talk to about it can be the difference between deep anxiety and survival. Imagine for a moment you aren’t taking care of your finances and your car needs a huge repair and you can’t afford it. That might be enough to really send you over the edge.

“Okay Karac, if you are so smart where do I start?”

Fair enough. Please look at one of my prior blog posts here. It talks about an emergency fund. Minimally, talk to those you love about money. Not always about your personal woes but money in general. When you do that you become more comfortable. Comfort = less stress and that is our goal, one day at a time.

You decide the title

My life, –
How much more of it remains? 
The night is brief. 

Masaoka Shiki 1867–1902

The sun is going down, it is twilight, the sun has gone below the horizon. I am sitting on a porch, overlooking the woods that abut my house. I have my lap top out, which I shut from time to time to decrease the illumination which detracts from the evenings glow. I can hear insects buzzing, a car motor passes in the distance.

I am alone, I am quiet, I am in the moment.

The time slips away, there are minutes left to the twilight. The clouds orange glow begins to fade, I must squint to the horizon to capture the last vestige of the sun. Then it’s gone.

I am alone, I am quiet, I am in the moment.

“How much more of it remains” I whisper to myself as I read the Haiku. “I don’t know” the voice inside my head says back. It’s dark now, the evening is upon me, night is stalking the last light of my day. I wonder to myself “I should head inside now, its getting late”

I am alone, I am quiet, I am in the moment.

I close my lap top, pack up my things and head inside. The moment passed, but I know the night is brief.

Tomorrow is another day, and as I start to engage sleep I realize that today I achieved a goal. I “enjoyed the moment”

When was the last time you did?  

Does caffeine contribute to your Anxiety?

This is a post I am loath to produce. I am a consumer of caffeine, I have been since a faithful day in 1982 (yes, I’m ancient). On that late November day in new England it was chilly, and I had to go to the bus stop. If you are a child of the 80’s like me, a gen xer, you know what the term “latch key kid” means. I was one, and it was freezing out. We had a Mr. Coffee maker that made instant coffee. My parents were at work already (they left early) so I made coffee. That hot beverage was bitter and nasty, but I had one of the best days of school to that point that I remembered, LOL my love affair with caffeine had begun.

Sadly, I found this article that suggests caffeine might be contributing to my anxiety. It’s not a long article filled with studies etc. (thank god, I don’t want this confirmed, LOL) but it did give me pause to consider my caffeine in take per day. First let’s get a quote from the article:

“For some people, caffeine may help with concentration and provide an energy boost, but it can cause problems for those with general anxiety disorder, said Dr. Julie Radico, a clinical psychologist with Penn State Health.”

“Caffeine is not the enemy,” she said in a university news release. “But I encourage people to know healthy limits and consume it strategically because it is activating and can mimic or exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety.”

That’s good, caffeine is “not the enemy” WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Yes, I like coffee. However, I drink to much and I know its likely contributing to my anxiety. Perhaps you’re like me, do you have a cup of coffee after a meal? This is an old habit I picked up, I had heard that the caffeine after dinner helped with digestion. An old wives’ tale likely but I think that’s the one I will cut out.

Below is a snap shot of my drink of choice, I have one, sometimes two of these a day.

Caffeine is a stimulant and it can affect different people different ways. I think the answer here is moderations (like with so many other things in life) if you are a coffee drinker like me, consider documenting your consumption for a week. All the sources of caffeine not just your coffee, see what your average Mg per day is, mine is close to 500.

Once I did that I have resolved to eliminate 100mg a day, id like to remove caffeine completely from my diet but I don’t think I can. The paradox is, caffeine might be contributing to my anxiety but the thought of quitting it makes me anxious, UGH.

What to do when you’re asked to speak.

At some point in our lives we will have to speak to other people. I know, I’m not going out on a limb here, but I found a good article on some tips on how to help you navigate the process.

Of course, this is applicable to work, or other group situations. In life its often the case that we are asked to speak or called on. Remember in high school (maybe your still there) when you were called on in class? Same theory really, as you enter the work force you’re going to be in meetings from time to time. You might be called on. Talking to a group of people is one of an anxiety suffers worse nightmare.

So many thoughts run through your head it can be nerve wracking and it can literally cause you physical harm. The article focuses mostly on impromptu speaking, like being called on randomly in class and it does a decent job of mapping out what to do, particularly what to do with your body I found that section particularly helpful.

From the article: “If you are asked to speak and you are not prepared, simply share with your audience what you want them to know. Or if you’re not even sure what they should know, just share something. The thing is, you almost can’t get this one wrong. People want to hear from you, not judge you.”

This is the critical point, you are being asked to speak because the person asking thinks you have something of value to add. There are times when someone might ask you something to literally put you on the spot, which is cruel but more often then not people who want to hear you speak on a subject genuinely value what you have to say. That’s probably the hardest thing to realize when you are “on the spot”.

In an instant you can be overwhelmed with this situation. Below are 3 things I have always done before meetings to make sure I was moderately prepared. These will enable you to have quick talking points should you need them.

  1. If I know the meeting is coming I educate myself on the subject.
  2. I run down quickly in my mind, who is calling the meeting, what their role is and why I think they are calling it.
  3. I look to see who else is in the meeting and identify allies.

More on 3. In any work situation, or life really, look for allies. People who are genuinely friendly to you may share a common mindset etc. These people may not be your friends, but you need allies in life to help you through tough situations. If you are in a meeting with one of these people, you can lean on them. Literally you can mimic what they said, they probably won’t be offended. You can look at them as you speak.

Life can be a roller coaster at some point you’ll likely be in this situation. Remember it isn’t the end of the world, you’re doing great…. One day at a time.

5 Easy tips for investing when you have anxiety

Money can generate immense amounts of anxiety. We all depend on money to live. Food, shelter, electricity nothing is free. All of us, by whatever means generate income. Income is the basis by which you can obtain items you need to live and the luxuries that improve your quality of life. If you are like me, you are affected by moderate amounts of anxiety. You are functioning, likely have a full-time job and thus have to deal with all the regular poop that comes with life.

If you live in the states or in any other western culture, there is a large emphasis placed on retirement and saving. Putting your money in a bank account and collecting interest is no longer enough as bank interest is extremely low. If you are at a point in your life where you have enough income to invest, for whatever reason, it can be overwhelming and daunting.

Here are 5 easy tips that will help you.

  1. Have the money automatically drawn from your pay or your bank account: This eliminates the stress of you must transfer it yourself. Many employer plans will do this for you, and in many cases, it will be pre-tax money, lowering your tax burden.
  2. Determine what the money is for: Is this for income generation? Is this for retirement? For a new car? Decide what this money is going to be used for BEFORE you start investing.
  3. Where to invest, Large Cap Growth funds: I know your eyes are glazing over… These types of funds are normally comprised of strong companies that generate revenue and are considered very well capitalized. Companies like Apple, Boeing, Microsoft. These companies aren’t going to fold up over night if there are bumps in the economy.
  4. Time: Most investment vehicles have a return average over time. You can get this measure over 5years, 10 years etc. Look at mutual funds that have a 10-20-year track record. What was their rate of return? A 20-year avg return is a great measure because it accounts for ups and downs in the market.
  5. Trust yourself: There is no “trick” to investing. Consistent investment over years generates good returns. Don’t look for short cuts, you will regret it.

Money can equal stress, but it doesn’t have to. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race. If you stick with a long-term consistent plan you will be a successful investor. Once every 3-6 months check your investments make sure they make sense. If you have an employer with a retirement plan, sit down with HR and ask your questions. This will help with your anxiety, and that’s their job.

Remember you have anxiety, this won’t be simple, you will worry, you will react, you will make mistakes. However, you can do this, and someday with a lot of persistence and patience you will have accumulated a nice chunk of change!

Anxiety and Partners

If you are lucky, you have someone special in your life. Your sexuality, gender, race doesn’t matter if you have someone special and you are happy that’s awesome. If you or your significant other has anxiety, it’s a test on so many levels it’s hard to boil it down to a few key situations. Anything can trigger anxiety, from the way someone closes the door, to how glasses clank at a restaurant.

I found a good article that discusses how anxiety affects our relationships.

From the article: “Because an anxiety disorder can be consuming, it can be best to start by talking with your partner about the ways anxiety affects daily life, like sleeplessness, says Jeffrey Borenstein, president and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in New York. Something as simple as using the word “stress” instead of clinical labels can help too. “Often people may feel a little more comfortable talking about stress as opposed to … anxiety [disorders],”

The key is to be as up front and open as you can about anxiety. Have no fear at some point in your relationship anxiety will manifest itself in an unattractive way. Just like acne, anxiety will rear itself when you don’t want it and it’s a big moment in your life. Relationships that stretch through time give many opportunities to experience situations with someone else. This presents the issue of anxiety influencing how you or someone else feels.

Let’s face it, people who do not suffer with anxiety don’t understand that there are times when it can be debilitating to the point you don’t want to go out, or even get out of bed. How do you explain that to someone you are starting a relationship with? How do you explain that to someone whom you are in a relationship with and it affects plans you had? There will be resentment, anger and disappointment.

What to do? From the article: “Even if the perspective of the other person absolutely makes no sense to you logically, you should validate it,” Try to understand your partner’s fears and worries, or at least acknowledge that those fears and worries are real to your partner, before addressing why such things might be irrational.

It’s critical that if we are in a relationship with someone whether we have the anxiety, or they do that we talk about it rationally. Often labels are used because the individuals involved don’t have a better way to communicate what they are experiencing or observing. Over time through shared experiences and good dialogue you can really enhance your relationship. It takes time of course but living with anxiety doesn’t mean you have to be alone, it just means you must work harder at it.

That means taking the time to listen and, on the flip, side being understanding when someone doesn’t “get” your anxiety issues. Investing time, understanding and compassion = a better relationship long time. When you are kind to your partner, they are kind to you.