We all dream of the day the numbers on our lottery ticket match the ones listed on the screen. Your odds of winning the Powerball are slim — it’s about one in 175 million, HuffPost notes — but you know someone has to win, thus you keep playing.
If you suddenly strike it rich, your life will change drastically. But is it necessarily for the better? Winning hundreds of millions of dollars definitely has its perks, but it can also totally ruin your health — here’s how.
1. You can develop anxiety and depression
If most of your daily anxiety comes from money woes, then winning the lottery might sound like the key to happiness. But Don McNay, a financial consultant to lottery winners, tells TIME, “So many of them wind up unhappy or wind up broke … It’s just upheaval that they’re not ready for.”
Suddenly finding yourself richer than everyone you know can severely alienate you, leading to anxiety and depression. Money can pay your bills, but it can’t purchase quality friendships to get you through the hard times.
2. You could be murdered
While plenty of people who win millions of dollars from the lottery live through the experience, there have been cases where foul play took place. The Chicago Tribune reports Urooj Khan won $1 million back in 2012, and soon after became a victim of cyanide poisoning. And he’s not the only one — plenty of others have been shot, robbed, or even buried under concrete slabs from those who want their money. It seems winning the lottery may affect your lifespan significantly.
3. You’ll learn to trust no one
Some states make the lottery winner go public, making it really hard to keep your winnings anonymous. And as Jim Kowats, director of productions for TLC’s The Lottery Changed my Life, tells CNN, “You’re used to living a very comfortable middle-class lifestyle and then all of a sudden you’ve got $10 million in the bank, and you don’t know who to trust, and people come out of the woodwork.” Before you know it, old friends are bringing you to court to try and get a piece of your winnings. This can make it really hard to trust even your closest buddies and family members — talk about stressful.
4. Your identity might seem foreign to you
You know who you are, with or without hundreds of millions of dollars … right? Scarily enough, when you win the lottery, HuffPost explains you might go through something known as “sudden wealth syndrome.” This occurs when you gain a lot of money too quickly to properly adjust, thus leading to an identity crisis. You have to start thinking of yourself as a person who’s rich, which you may have never identified with before. This can lead you to question who you are, what you want out of life, and your personal values, which can put a damper on your mental health.
5. You’ll engage in riskier behavior
You may think of yourself as responsible now, but with a big payout often comes highly risky behavior. A study from Health Economics found those who won the lottery began to smoke and socially drink on a more consistent basis. The study also notes while some people may actually see their mental health improve with their winnings, their newfound risky behavior is likely to hurt them in the long run.
Buying a ticket and not winning can have mental health benefits
You know by now you have a better chance of being stung to death by bees or becoming the next president than winning the lottery, and yet you still play. That’s OK — to play and not win might have more benefits than you think. Psychology Today explains the possibility of winning is enough to thrill you. “For less than the cup of coffee, one can realistically spend several happy hours imagining ‘what if,'” the publication notes. Anticipation has real mood-boosting benefits, so feel free to purchase your ticket and dream on.
How much money do you need for happiness?
Maybe winning the Powerball won’t make you the happiest person alive, but not having enough money for a sustainable life surely isn’t helping you either. So, is there a magic number for happiness? U.S. News & World Report says Princeton researchers found an annual income of $75,000 generally makes people the happiest.
But due to hedonic adaptation, the more wealth you accumulate, the more you’ll get used to having that wealth and think you need more to be happy. The takeaway here is to be thankful for the money you have, as more might not make your life any richer.