In a country where more than half the population is struggling with a mortgage, student loan, credit card, or some other form of debt, you would think that accumulating large amounts of debt was a way of life. Though having some debt can work in your favor, too much of it not only ruins your finances and way of life, but it can ruin your emotional health. The saying may very well be that money can’t buy you happiness, but the truth is, without it, you can find yourself feeling anxious, stressed out, and depressed.
Sure, managing debt can be stressful. Yet, how do you know when it’s impacting your health?
Anxiety and Depression
Whether you were previously diagnosed with anxiety or depression or not, too much debt can increase your risk of developing these mental illnesses or trigger symptoms. For example, having just 30 days to come up with the money to keep your house out of foreclosure is going to cause some anxiety. Having more bills to pay than the income coming in to cover them will eventually lead you to feel hopeless.
Long periods of any of these feelings can increase your risk of developing depression and/or anxiety. Those who suffer from depression already and are even taking medications for them may find it hard to cope when they’re under a great deal of financial stress. Some even start mixing antidepressants and alcohol or drugs to try and get past their pain.
Fear or Panic
When you’re in over your head with debt you eventually become fearful of the consequences. Not paying your mortgage on time can lead to a foreclosure, skipping that car note could result in a repossession, defaulting on those student loans could result in wage garnishments, and the list goes on.
You can also become fearful of the future or things that have not yet come to pass. For example, your car starts smoking when you start it, you then become fearful about where you’re going to find the money to fix it when it breaks down. If you miss a deadline or make a mistake in the office, you begin to fret over what would happen if you were to lose your job. Some even become fearful that they will never be able to climb out of the debt they’re in.
Anger and Frustration
Whether you accumulated a lot of debt from making poor financial choices in the past or as a result of some unforeseen circumstances like layoffs, a medical condition, or a loss in the family, it can bring up feelings of anger and frustration. It is often those circumstances that are beyond your control that make you the most upset. You lost your job and now you’re in debt and can’t seem to find a new job. You’re sick and had to take medical leave and you’re upset because now you can’t provide for your family like you used to. You become frustrated with yourself, others, or the powers that be for your circumstances and your inability to make positive changes in a timely fashion.
Self-Doubt and Regret
In order to get yourself out of debt, you often have to look at the choices and circumstances that got you where you are. This will allow you to make effective changes and more informed decisions going forward. Unfortunately, however, it’s never easy taking a long, hard look in the mirror and being honest with yourself. As you begin looking at your bank statements, credit card purchases, and credit reports, you begin to see all the things you believe you could have done differently. Suddenly, what should be used constructively to help you do better in the future, becomes internalized feelings of self-doubt and regret. You become mad at yourself for the choices you made and are reluctant to believe that you have the ability to dig yourself out of the hole.
From the President of the United States to Joe Smoe at the pizza restaurant, everyone struggles with debt. While this is a common practice in this country what has to be realized is that if you don’t have a good grasp on your finances, eventually, it will have a negative impact on your life and your overall wellbeing. If your debt is starting to cause any of the symptoms described above, it is imperative that you first take care of your health and then begin creating a plan to better manage your money and get your finances back on track.