Millions of Americans living with debt or other money issues, your financial situation may be negatively impacting your mental health.
Debt can leave you feeling stressed out, anxious, and depressed. However, understanding the link between debt and mental health is an important step toward a happier, debt-free future.
Potential impacts of money and debt stress
There’s a strong link between debt and poor mental health. People with debt are more likely to face common mental health issues, such as prolonged stress, depression, and anxiety.
Debt can affect your physical well-being, too. This is especially true if the stigma of debt is keeping you from asking for help. Increased stress could decrease the quality of your sleep, which can in turn negatively affect your physical health and impair your ability to concentrate throughout the day.
On the flip side, these negative effects can make your financial situation even harder to handle. Individuals struggling with mental health issues are more likely to have trouble managing their finances. For example, they may find themselves overspending to feel the temporary excitement of a new purchase. Or, they may make various types of unwise financial choices due to mental health struggles. Then, once you’re struggling with your mental health, it could become even more difficult to manage your money, so your debt only continues to grow.
Reducing the stigma of being in debt
Many people feel stigmatized by debt, which can sometimes keep them from dealing with the situation head-on. But ignoring your debt won’t make it go away and could even make the problem worse if it leads to late payments or continued overspending.
It’s important to remember that debt is a normal part of financial life for millions of Americans. Although some individuals find themselves in debt due to bad decisions and unwise spending habits, for others, debt is unavoidable. For example, you might take on debt for a large but necessary expense, such as funding your education or buying a home. Or, you might go into debt after an unexpected job loss or a major medical expense.
Regardless of how your debt occurred, it’s never something to be ashamed of. And it’s never too late to take steps to change your situation.
How to find support resources
Debt can be detrimental to your physical and mental health, but you don’t have to struggle alone. If you find yourself in financial hot water, take action and seek help:
- Take an honest look at the debt you’re carrying. Review each of the debts you owe, including any interest rates or history of late payments. Make a list of how much you owe on each debt and when each minimum payment is due. This will help you structure your repayment process.
- Review your credit reports. Checking your credit reports can help you better understand your credit history and the status of your accounts. You can get free credit reports annually from the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Determine what you can pay off each month and create a budget. Start by listing your monthly income alongside your monthly expenses. Consider creating categories for what you spend each month such as housing, groceries, transportation, and personal expenses. Include another category for the minimum amount that you owe on your debts. Building a comprehensive budget can help you get a clearer picture of how much money you have left over at the end of each month to put toward additional debt payments.
- Reach out to your creditors about your situation. Consider contacting your creditors to explain your situation. In some cases, they may be willing to work out a modified payment plan that can make it more manageable to pay your bills.
- Connect with a reputable credit counseling organization. Credit counselors are certified professionals who thoroughly review your financial situation and advise on the best method for paying down your debt. This might include helping you develop a personalized budget or going through a debt management plan.
TIP:: You can start your search with the NFCC (National Foundation for Credit Counseling), the country’s largest accreditor of credit counselors.