The stress that financial burdens can bring into us can have detrimental effects on our overall health. It starts with a few missed payments to our creditors, which then spirals into what feels like a never-ending debt pool. For most of us, the thought of debt can trigger anxious thoughts and feelings, and for those of us who are suffering the most, it can lead to long periods of depression.
It can work both ways, debt can lead to mental health problems, and struggling with mental health can lead to falling into debt without the correct support system. Mental health is a lot more complicated than people who have not experienced its effects like to believe. Money-related stress has proven to correlate with the development of mental health problems, and we are here to share some of the ideas surrounding the topic.
How Does Debt Happen?
In terms of what leads people into debt, there are a few ways in which people unsuspectedly fall within this threshold. There is a stigma around debt, as people who are yet to get themselves into debt see individuals who are suffering from debt as people who carelessly spend on luxuries and other non-necessities. The reality is that with rising interest rates, the rise in the cost of living, and other factors such as redundancies, people have no choice but to use credit to pay for essential expenses. Finding extra income when you potentially have no support system, or perhaps no time to open up a new stream of income is very difficult. Although debt is something we all wish to avoid, at desperate times it can mean desperate measures.
How Does Debt Lead To Decline In Mental Health
People who have got themselves into debt start to have a realisation that all the walls are caving in on them. By this we mean the interest on their debts is dramatically rising, meaning the longer they have to pay off their debts the more debt they will have to pay off. There is a lot of pressure that comes with having to pay off a lot of debt, and self-deprecating thoughts begin to arise as the struggle starts to increase. Anxiety and depression are common results of the high volumes of stress that can manifest with looming debts to pay off.
Can Mental Health Problems Lead To Debt?
On the opposite end of things, it is just as common for individuals already suffering from mental health problems to fall into debt. Poor mental health is often linked with a lack of motivation and drive which is required to stay on top of your finances. Your rational thinking is likely skewed, which therefore makes it difficult to be financially responsible. Unfortunately for these people, the weight of not just their financial problems, but the other responsibilities in their lives begin to start crashing down, leaving even more problems which they have little control over.
Signs That Debt Is Affecting Your Mental Health
If you believe that your debts are having negative effects on your mental health, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the stress of your debts causing insomnia/ preventing you from getting sufficient sleep?
- Do you have a wave of anxiety when you receive unsolicited phone calls, because you believe it is from one of your creditors?
- Do you worry about how you are going to pay the bills each month with the cost of paying back your debts?
- Are you avoiding getting all of your debts together to have an overall view of what is owed?
If any of these behaviours resonate with you, you likely need to seek help to try and alleviate some of these stressors as much as possible.
How To Manage Your Mental Health & Debt
Speak To Friends & Family
Those closest to us are often the best first point of contact. You should not feel embarrassed about how you are feeling or ashamed. Those we love are here to help and support us in any way possible, so consider speaking to your most trusted friend or family member about what is on your mind. You should not feel kike you are alone when dealing with mental health problems associated with debt.
Seek Professional Help
If your mental health is causing restrictions on your everyday activities, you should seek medical help. There are now hundreds of mental health support lines and practices to discuss what thoughts and emotions have been arising. It would be beneficial to speak with a mental health professional who can help alleviate some of your negative, ruminating thoughts, and hopefully get you back on track.
Learn Improved Financial Habits
Once you can and your mental health is in a safe space, you should take the steps to unlearn any of your bad financial habits. There are many educational materials out there that teach the fundamentals of managing money. You should get the basics covered before you begin taking actionable steps toward reducing your debts.
Speak With Financial Advisors
Financial advisors are there to help you, especially if they understand your position and how your debts are affecting your mental state. In some instances, advisors can let creditors know of the current position with your health and work to remove some of the interest, and in a few instances write off the debts. These of course are rare occasions and can never be guaranteed, but at least reaching out for help is a great strategy. They might also offer advice on consolidating debts, whilst offering IVA advice. If you are unsure, bring one of your loved ones with you to discuss your options with a reputable advisor.
Ultimately, the key to finding change is to first acknowledge that a change is needed. Depending on your circumstances, you might be eligible for financial support if your debt is leaving you with little expenditure to get through the month. Suffering from mental health is a common experience for many of us, but when debt is the cause or associated with poor mental health it can feel inescapable. First, get support for your mental health, and then begin taking actionable steps to make your debts more manageable, and eventually get rid of them for good.