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How Debt Affects Mental Health

Sarah Edwards | October 03, 2023

Sarah Edwards
Legal Expert
Sarah Edwards, BS

Sarah Harris is a professional researcher and writer specializing in legal content. An Emerson College alumna, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the prestigious Boston institution.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Owing money to creditors isn’t just a nuisance. It turns out that debt can take a toll on your mental health. In this article, SoloSuit explains the mental health impacts of debt and how to work through them.

Has debt got you down? If you’re one of the millions of Americans with a mortgage, credit card debt, student loan, or auto loan, you likely have some thoughts about your obligations — and those thoughts are probably not positive. In fact, being in debt can impact your mental well-being and even your physical health.

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A recent study found that debt exacerbates mental health problems

Most people can relate to the stress of owing money and not having the funds to pay a bill. Even if you have the cash, it will reduce your bank balance, making it harder to pay for other things, like food and living expenses. If you’re constantly shifting funds to make ends meet, your debts can affect your mental health.

The top debt for Americans is a mortgage, followed by credit cards. Over half of Americans have a monthly mortgage. Nearly as many have credit card obligations.

According to a survey by Innerbody, most people with debts experience mental health symptoms as a result.

Nearly 61% of respondents felt stressed when thinking about their debt. Similarly, 48.7% cited feelings of anxiety, and 44.3% experienced depression. One-fifth of respondents felt restless about their debts. Only 16% of survey participants said they experienced no mental health problems regarding their obligations.

Most respondents felt that their mortgage was the most significant source of their mental health concerns brought on by debt, while credit cards were close behind.

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Debt can reduce your quality of life

Having debt isn’t just hard on your mental health; it can also adversely impact your quality of life. According to the Innerbody study, nearly all survey participants indicated they didn’t take certain actions because of the debt they owed.

For instance, 65% reported that they didn’t take a vacation, and 38% delayed having children because of concerns about money.

Even more concerning is that 31% of consumers put off routine doctor’s appointments because they were concerned about the cost and how it would impact their ability to pay their obligations. Delaying health care means that medical conditions may be overlooked, potentially affecting the individual’s life span.

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Try to avoid overextending yourself with debt

Unfortunately, debt is a major part of life. Few people can get by without taking on some form of debt, whether to get through college, buy a house, or purchase a vehicle.

However, it’s pretty easy to overextend yourself. Using a credit card to cover unexpected car repairs, signing on to an expensive student loan when you’re 19 and don’t fully understand the implications, and taking on a larger mortgage just before your spouse loses their job are a few common ways that Americans get trapped in debt.

Let’s consider an example.

Example: Tracy Chapman wants a fast car. She visits her local used car dealership looking for a Corvette, but it doesn’t have one. She wants a Corvette so badly she decides to purchase a new one instead. Tracy doesn’t have the best credit, so she ends up with a loan that has a 15% APR. Her payment is $1,000, and she earns $4,000 monthly after taxes. She also has a mortgage, which is $1,800 monthly. After paying for her car and mortgage, she’ll still need to cover insurance, gas, and food costs. Tracy decides to buy the car anyway since she thinks she’ll get a promotion soon. Six months later, Tracy realizes she has made a mistake. She didn’t get the promotion, and she’s stuck with the car payment. Tracy has no money for anything extra. In addition to the added stress, she has to cancel her gym membership and weekly guitar lessons. Her physical and mental health suffer.

Don’t let debt get you down

It’s all too easy to tell someone to let go of their financial problems. However, serious debt issues can affect your mental health and overall well-being. It’s time to be proactive and find a solution to move past your debt-related stress.

Is a collection agency suing you for an old debt? Resolve your debt today with the help of SoloSettle.

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