Billion Dollar Phobia? Friday the 13th Fears Take a Big Economic TollOh, no! It's Friday the 13th!

Superstitious investors may remember the mini-stock market crash of Oct. 13, 1989, when a megabillion-dollar leveraged buyout of struggling airline carrier United Airlines hit the skids and contributed to the Dow plummeting nearly 7% on that fateful day.

And who can forget the massive 6.8 earthquake in northeastern Turkey on March 13, 1992, which resulted in more than 500 deaths and widespread damage to property, giving investors in insurance companies some reason to pause.

Friday the 13th fears have been around for eons, in part attributed to the ancient belief that 13 is an unlucky number. Friday also happens to be considered an unlucky day, according to a National Geographic report. Smash the two together and it's double trouble.

Pushing People Over the Edge

Fears about Friday the 13th can cause folks to take steps they may not otherwise take, say psychologists. Those steps can range from staying home from work to avoiding air travel, says Karen Cassiday, clinical director and owner of the Anxiety & Agoraphobia Treatment Center in Chicago.

Of the more than 300 million people in the United States, an estimated 10.5 million suffer from obsessive-compulsive behavior, and about a quarter of them have phobias related to superstitions that cause them to change their lifestyle or engage in avoidance behaviors, says Cassiday.

In addition, 21 million Americans suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, which entails constant worrying about a variety of things and events. Of this group, Cassiday estimates a whopping 75% to 80% may be superstitious.

The Cost of Friday the 13th Phobias

All this worrying and fear leads to more than just gray hairs -- it also leads to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business on Friday the 13th.

Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, N.C., was quoted in the National Geographic report as saying: "It's been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do."

The only folks who stand to make money from Friday the 13th are those who sell rosaries or amulets like lucky rabbit's feet. Most of these purchases are made days before a Friday the 13th, because those suffering from this type of phobia often don't venture out on those days, Cassiday notes.

When You Should Worry

Superstitions alone aren't enough to justify a call to a psychologist, but clinical treatment is needed when they begin to prohibit social or occupational functioning on a constant basis, says Lisa Hale, founder and director of the Kansas City Center for Anxiety Treatment in Kansas.

"Missing one day of work is not enough to be diagnosable. It's when it impairs your ability to do your job that clinical treatment is needed," says Hale, who also serves as a director of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America and director of the Anxiety Research Program at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

"Anxiety disorders are very treatable, but people write them off as a quirk," Hale says. "If it starts to get in the way of living your life or doing your job, then it's highly recommended people get help."

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Don't forget about Jason, he was bad news on Friday the 13th as well.

January 17 2012 at 5:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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January 16 2012 at 2:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the economy has gone down the toilet since George W. Bush ran for president

January 16 2012 at 1:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Awwwww c'mon guys. You mean to say there's not enough garbage going on in the world so you're resorting to put the blame on the 13th? Such a drama queen.

January 15 2012 at 1:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

People need to heal their nerves by going on nature walks.

January 14 2012 at 3:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It just shows how STUPID major investors (read wealthy Republicans) are. This is the crap they worry about.

January 14 2012 at 2:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Janice's comment

This is the crap liberal AOL chooses to pring.

January 14 2012 at 9:49 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to savemycountry911's comment


January 14 2012 at 9:49 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

These are the same people who believe in Crystal balls, ghosts and that ass on TV who sees ya dead mother. Friday the 13th is about as superstitious as Y2K and 12/21/2012, the end of the Mayan Calender. People thrive over fables.

January 14 2012 at 8:57 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

stock market tanked once again due to S and P's downgrading.....not number thirteen.

January 13 2012 at 10:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I've always considered Friday the 13th to be my lucky day. My name has13-letters in it. Today hasn't changed my mind. At the age of 87, I'm still here...especially after serving during during WWII as an infantry rifleman in the SW Pacific. That was a time when all of us worked and fought Americans...on both sides of the world...and we won. Wish we could forget political parties today...and become Americans again, working together. Norb

January 13 2012 at 9:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

imagine waht next year will be like with superstitious phobias. 2013. will they shut themselves in a padded room for a whole year? I'm actually looking forward 2013 just to see how they act. especially on 1/3/13

January 13 2012 at 8:38 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to iggles7561's comment
Alexis Elizabeth

That should actually be 1/13/13 lol!!!

January 14 2012 at 7:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply