By Liz Weston

Financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin of Ann Arbor, Michigan, specializes in helping people deal with their anxieties about money. But since the pandemic started, Bryan-Podvin has been hearing more about guilt than fear.

Several people who still have jobs and financial security felt guilty about having been spared while others suffered, says Bryan-Podvin, author of “The Financial Anxiety Solution.”

“I would start to hear things like, ‘I shouldn’t be complaining — my partner has it so much worse,’ or ‘I can’t even believe I’m telling you this because so-and-so in my neighborhood lost their job,’” she says.

The feelings clients expressed and the language they used were almost identical to what Bryan-Podvin hears from people with post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental health disorder that can be triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.

“What I started to see was survivor guilt,” Bryan-Podvin says. “They feel like they somehow didn’t deserve what they have.”

Guilt Can Turn Inward

Survivor’s guilt is a symptom of PTSD, often felt by people who wonder why they lived while others died. While financial survivor’s guilt isn’t an official psychological diagnosis, Bryan-Podvin says that recognizing the similarities has helped her treat clients who are struggling.

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