Mental health and debt – two taboo subjects that often unfortunately go hand in hand. Often debt can cause mental health problems such as anxiety and depression; conversely debt can be a result of a mental health problem. Often, due to the very secretive nature of both debt and mental illness people will suffer in silence.
We can feel isolated and alone; when in reality these are common issues.
In a recent poll carried out by moneysavingexpert.com of 6,700 people - 44% of those have had mental health problems (or have partners who do) and had severe or crisis debt. This is five times as many as everyone else. It seems for those with mental health problems, big debts are much more likely than that of the general population.
Anxiety and debt - Statistics
One in four British adults experiences at least one mental health problem in any year, e.g. clinical depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder (source: ONS Psychiatric Morbidity report 2001).
44% of those seeking debt help have been prescribed medication to help them cope. (Christians Against Poverty (CAP) 2010 survey).
38% of those seeking debt help had considered or attempted suicide as a way out (CAP survey 2010).
77% of those seeking debt help who are in a couple said debts affected their relationship. (CAP survey 2010).
As highlighted in the statistics above anxiety is a common side effect of debt. Anxiety is a disproportionate fear that causes a sufferer distress. Please click here to read more about Anxiety - What Is Anxiety.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
There are different anxiety disorders, and their symptoms will be different and vary in intensity from person to person. Please see our Anxiety Disorders page for more information on this.
Anxiety itself can cause psychological and behavioural symptoms such as:
Fear you are ‘going mad’
Restlessness, fidgeting, inability to concentrate
Sense of impending danger
Nervousness feeling ‘on edge’
Being easily distracted
Sleep difficulties – Insomnia
Detachment from surroundings
Anxiety can also cause physical symptoms including:
Irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
Shortness of breath
Diarrhoea/ increased bowel movements
Drowsiness and tiredness
Hypersensitivity (sights/sounds appear different perhaps louder/intensified)
Pins and needles
Tense aching muscles especially in the shoulders/chest and/or abdomen
Sweating (which may have a different smell)
Irregular periods (painful/missed)
Insomnia – sleep difficulties
These symptoms could indicate an anxiety disorder or another medical condition; these should always be discussed with your GP.
Anxiety can cause longer-term symptoms and changes in behaviour, these can include withdrawing from social activities, avoiding social events, friends and family, even work. It is not uncommon for anxiety sufferers to take up smoking, drinking or taking drugs. Anxiety sufferers can find that in order to try and gain perceived control over their lives they increasingly avoid situations that make them anxious, this can lead to increased isolation and anxiety.
If it is debt that is causing your anxiety, the best way to get rid of the anxiety is to deal with the debt. It sounds obvious, however it can be daunting and when faced with the situation it can be tempting to burry our head in the sand. The only way to deal with debt is to face it. Below we have Martin Lewis, money saving expert’s top tips for dealing with debt.
Top tips with dealing with debt
Thanks to money expert Martin Lewis:
There's no such thing as an unsolvable debt. MoneySavingExpert.com's creator Martin Lewis, says: "For as long as I've been doing my job, I've never once seen a debt case that isn'tsolvable. It may not be easy, it may not be quick, but it's always doable." If you start to sort it out, it does get better.
Stop borrowing.It sounds obvious, but sorting out existing debts is harder if you keep adding to them. If you feel up to tackling your finances, the easy start point is to do a budget and work out where the money's going (free planner at www.moneysavingexpert.com/budget).
Consider informing your bank. Once a lender is aware that a customer has a mental health condition, it has to make adjustments. The Lending Code says banks should consider keeping a debt in-house rather than passing it to debt collectors and make court action the last resort. Though telling your bank is a decision to discuss carefully with a case worker or debt counsellor.
Check if you qualify for DLA.In some cases, mental health issues can qualify you for disabilityliving allowance (DLA) of between £19 and £121 per week (though this is currently under government review). Do benefitsandwork.co.uk's quick DLA test see if you qualify.
Consider adding a note on your file. If you overspend when you are unwell, you can volunteer to add information on mental health problems to credit files in what is called a notice of correction, which alerts potential lenders so they don't lend further credit. This can be added or removed whenever you want. There is full help to evaluate this decision in the guide.
Cut your interest rates. The lower your interest rate, the more of your repayment goes towards clearing the actual debt, rather than just servicing the interest. For example, if you have credit cards, see if it's possible to do a balance transfer that pays off the debts on old cards for you, so you owe the new card the money at a cheaper interest rate.
Repay highest rates first. Try listing your rates, then focusing all spare cash on clearing the highest interest debts first; just pay the minimum on everything else. Once the highest is clear, you can shift to the second costliest.
Eight tips for coping with debt stress and anxiety
Is debt taking over your life? Along with the financial worries, struggling with debt often leads to depression, anxiety and stress and can cause tension or arguments between you and your loved ones. Here, we look at how you can begin to cope with debt, and how you can deal with the emotional and mental troubles that it brings.
1. Accept that your debt is a problem
Before you can tackle your debt and the associated worry and stress, you need to accept that it’s a problem. For many people, debt is something that creeps up on them, building slowly over time. Your debt may have grown from being small and manageable into something that now feels like it’s totally out of your control, but now you need to accept that your debt is a problem.
2. Talk about your debt
Once you have accepted that your debt is a problem, it’s important that you talk to someone about your worries. By talking about your problem you share the burden of worry and help to reduce feelings of stress. Be open with your partner about your debt, it affects them too – both financially and emotionally. If you feel comfortable, talk to trusted friends or family about your debt, but don’t worry if you feel like you can’t – it can be a difficult subject to bring up. The most important thing is to ensure you get professional debt advice from a debt counsellor who will hear you out and help you to deal with your situation.
3. Take action and deal with your debt
The sooner you start dealing with your debt, the sooner the problem will be resolved. Your first steps should be:
Get in touch with a debt organisation like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or Consumer Credit Counselling Service for free impartial advice.
Stop ignoring bills and start speaking to your creditors.
4. Restore your confidence
Taking action also has the benefit of giving you a feeling of achievement, and you’ll soon start to see that your debt is a problem that you can overcome. So if you’re feeling as though your debt is a huge problem, or something you can’t deal with, remember that taking small steps will help to restore your confidence.
5. Get help coping with your debt
There are many different routes out of debt, and a few charities that can help you decide which option is best for you. We recommend the following organisations:
Consumer Credit Counselling Service
Citizens Advice Bureau
Are you dealing with debt worries and anxiety?
AS WE continue to go through turbulent economic times, a lot of people are in a state of panic and anxiety. Thousands of families are overwhelmed with the difficult choices and situations that they face. The questions that I am often asked are: “Will my family’s increasing debt load result in bankruptcy?” “What happens if I lose my home in foreclosure?” Most people are living paycheck to paycheck with zero savings and they barely have enough to put food on the table and keep the lights on.
Personal debt from mortgages, credit cards and other loans has surged and a lot of people have borrowed more than they can pay back. Are you one of these people? Maybe you have been using your credit cards just to survive, hoping that things will turn around soon. But even credit card companies these days are no longer lending money as they used to. They are reducing credit lines and closing inactive accounts to reduce their risks. A few years ago, people used to be able to refinance their mortgage and cash out their home equity every time they needed the extra cash to keep them afloat. But those days are gone and we probably won’t see them again for a long while.
The average household now owes approximately $25,800 in credit cards. Studies show that 65% of all credit card accounts are only paid the minimum required every month. And of course, you know what that means. As long as you are only paying the minimum required on your credit cards, you are guaranteed to remain in debt for a very long time- perhaps for the rest of your life.
So how do you protect yourself and your family in the midst of this financial turmoil? If you are in debt, perhaps you’re feeling as though you have no hope for the future until you find a way to get out of debt and start saving again. Personally, I’ve seen even close friends and relatives go through the agony of losing their homes in foreclosure so I know how you feel. Some people are so paralyzed with fear that they end up doing nothing to change their situation.
One thing you can do is to find a way to reduce or eliminate your debts so that you can have more money available for basic necessities. Experts predict that it may take a while for the economy to get better so this is certainly not a good time to be in debt. Continuing to borrow when you’re already overextended will only lead to financial disaster; it’s only a matter of time before you face the inevitable consequences. Avoid buying anything on credit unless it’s an absolute necessity.
If you are struggling with debt problems and need to find a way out, we can help you determine your best course of action. If you’ve done everything you can but nothing has worked up to this point, maybe you need to accept the fact that you can no longer do it on your own and that you need professional help to get you out of your situation. The worst thing that you can do at this time is to procrastinate and do nothing until your situation becomes a financial emergency.
For a free consultation, call Toll-Free 1(866) 477-7772. We have offices in Glendale, Cerritos, West Covina and Valencia.
Unemployment, Debt and Anxiety on the Rise – A Perfect Time to Thrive!
The economy is busted. The American Dream is dead. Once built on the pursuit of happiness, now our country crumbles because of it. A dismal state of existence -- a perfect time to thrive!
Though most of us will do anything to avoid challenge, discomfort or even the slightest bit of inconvenience (hence, the Clapper, remote controls and Velcro), research suggests that people who endure hardship often experience positive growth as a result of such. These people are thrivers - and they emerge from adversity with a new lease on life and a greater sense of vitality. Thrivers also know how to embrace challenge and discomfort, spinning them into opportunities for personal growth!
While we may still cringe when recalling this tragic event, even amidst the horror of September 11th psychologists found evidence of post-traumatic growth (positive changes after a traumatic event) - where individuals experienced a deeper appreciation of life, a shift in life priorities, and enhanced spirituality, relationships and self-sufficiency. Similar studies on trauma have also found favorable changes in behavior, worldviews and relationships stemming from hardship - highlighting our human potential for positive adjustment and adaptation to stress. In fact, challenging times can enhance coping skills and amplify personal strengths and inner resources essential for resilience and mastery of challenge and change - a hallmark of thriving! But who are these fascinating people (thrivers), and what do they have that the rest of us Velcro-wearing, clap-happy ninnies don't?