Bitcoin and crypto trading has undoubtedly affected many negatively. From a psychological perspective, it’s easy to predict the volatility of this field can lead someone into a storm of stress and anxiety. Just the fact that this industry operates 24 hours a day will encourage dysfunctional behaviors such as compulsive price checking, losing sleep or obsessive thoughts about the market. Even the most sophisticated investors are not prepared for the intense fluctuations in crypto, and so it's no surprise this industry has now claimed its piece of the pie in mental health disorders.
As a psychotherapist, I'm treating clients who are suffering from anxiety regardless of the position of their trades. Whether their portfolio is up or down, they are stressed over what decision to make next. When the crypto market is up and investors experience a sudden increase in wealth, celebratory drug and alcohol abuse often follows. When the price of bitcoin and other crypto currencies drop, investors experience anxiety, major depression, PTSD and panic attacks. Clinically speaking, some of these clients are traumatized and their mental health disorders are affecting their overall physical health.
One can easily draw parallels between crypto trading and compulsive gambling. The constant ups and downs of the market create euphoric highs of winning and depressive downs of losing. Just like a synthetic drug, chasing the high is the goal. In a quest to make more money, one often falls into compulsive buying and selling and then finds it impossible to recover from the losses. The inability to stop trading in a down market affects one’s stress level, self esteem, overall confidence and financial security.
Just as cigarette packages warn smokers about the hazards of smoking, crypto exchange companies owe it to their users to alert investors of the psychological dangers of compulsive gambling.
Sadly, there are very few who seek help or therapy as a tool to manage their investing-induced anxiety. In the worst scenarios this could be deadly. Alex Kearns, a 20-year old Robinhood user, took his life after mistakenly believing he lost a $730,000 risky bet.
The emotional roller coaster of trading is not for everyone and platforms such as Robinhood have not taken enough precautions to vet their users' financial experience. Whether you are trading stocks or crypto, it's imperative to learn how to handle the emotional stress that automatically comes with the market. Mental health professionals can facilitate a safe space to create appropriate boundaries and build healthy coping mechanisms.
Like any industry, psychotherapists also need to evolve to understand quickly evolving industries like tech and crypto, and to encourage clients to bring those issues to their sessions. Therapists who understand these dynamic industries are more equipped to conceptualize their clients' needs and process their feelings and decisions in a more efficient manner.
Seeking professional help should not only be normalized but encouraged – by Fortune 500 companies and crypto startups alike. Today’s professionals spend more time at work than they do at home, and going to a therapist is the best place to process work frustrations. Addressing interpersonal disagreements will help strengthen co-worker bonds, increase work satisfaction and productivity.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, the following organizations can help:
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