Feature Archive

Too Rich for Your Health?

They have money, power, and glory. So why are they miserable?

WebMD Feature

April 17, 2000 (Greenbrae, Calif.) -- Tired of reading about the Silicon Valley Gold Rush and the techies who've struck it rich with the latest IPO? Well, hold the envy; these self-made millionaires often feel alienated and anxious, and there's increasing evidence that sudden wealth is bad for you.

"People don't realize how hard it is to adjust," says Angela Jones, who founded a successful start-up company with her husband. The Joneses (not their real names) found themselves spending so much time at work that they had a special room built there for their infant.

When Microsoft bought their company, making them instantly rich, Angela thought she'd be able to take it easy. But things only got worse. "We were still caught up in the workaholic lifestyle. We lost a lot of friends and ended up divorced."

Americans are enjoying the longest economic boom in history -- a record 107 months -- but this newfound prosperity isn't bringing us security and happiness. Instead, it's making people far more anxious. Recent studies indicate that the more you have, the more vulnerable you feel -- and the more worries you rack up.

University of Chicago researchers divided 800 teenagers into four groups according to the income levels of the communities in which they lived for one study published in the October 1998 issue of Monitor on Psychology. They found that the wealthier the community, the less happy the teenager.