Debt can have a serious impact on your emotional and physical health. We've all experienced the stress of opening an overdue monthly bill or the feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re faced with another unexpected cost. These feelings can accumulate over time and cause serious anguish.
The first step towards improving your well-being is to find the empathy you need to open up to someone about your challenges.
Here at BDO we know how important it is to hear real people talk about money problems.
In this episode of the BDO Financial Wellness Podcast, we’re uncovering the side of debt that isn’t always talked about — the effect that debt can have on your mental, emotional, and physical health. For a closer look at the emotional effects of debt we turn to Nancy Snedded and Paul Moffett. As BDO Licensed Insolvency Trustees, they are uniquely qualified to offer advice on overcoming the mental hurdles surrounding debt.
Struggling to pay your bills or keep up with growing debt can lead to a host of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, panic attacks and hopelessness. Research also shows a correlation between debt and suicide, depression and anxiety.
Ongoing money worries or debt stress takes a toll. Even in a “normal” year, increasing costs and changing life circumstances can throw your finances for a loop, and in turn, affect your emotional health. Millions of Canadians are feeling a higher level of financial and personal stress because of rising inflation and affordability challenges.
- Nancy Snedden, President of BDO Debt Solutions
As the effects of the pandemic continue to evolve, the uncertainty and fear that people are feeling about the economy and their own financial security carries on. The resulting stress can cause your body to be in a perpetual “fight-or-flight” mode. Cortisol levels can rise over time, causing physical and emotional effects like elevated blood pressure, sleep disorders, digestive problems, headaches and irritability. The fear around money problems, like too much debt, can lead to other emotional health problems, like anxiety and depression. The sense of helplessness can be a serious driver of emotional illness.
Falling behind on bill payments and struggling to get out of debt can be a major source of anxiety, and the effects are often cumulative. As time goes on, if the problems aren’t resolved, the anxiety may lead to panic attacks, breathing or heart issues, problems sleeping and an inability to focus.
Some days, it might even be hard to get out of bed, and when you do, it can be tough to muster the energy you need to go about your daily life or work. Your irritability or inability to engage with others may also increase, and the people around you like family, friends, or co-workers could all take notice. It becomes increasingly difficult to focus on your partner, your kids, or your work when your debt is unresolved or increasing.
Even the idea of future debt can trigger stress and anxiety. When you don’t know what’s ahead and you don’t have a financial plan in place, the stress can consume you. That can lead to an inability to act at all, like a deer in headlights. Avoidance and denial might feel right in the moment, but the reality of your financial situation or your fears about the future will soon creep back in. Late payments, unopened bills, collection calls and accessing new credit to pay off existing debt are just a few of the warning signs of financial problems.
When it comes to debt, avoidance and denial will make your debt problems more serious and more stressful.
Getting out of debt may seem impossible at first glance, but it isn’t. That’s why a lot of people avoid talking about debt or taking steps to pay off their debt. But those first steps are important, for your financial health and your emotional well-being.
Everyone’s financial situation and lifestyle is different. You may have the ability to bring in additional income, reduce expenses or adjust your budget. Or you may need to find a solution to help you resolve your debt, such as a debt repayment strategy or debt relief option.
Has your debt become unmanageable? The best thing you can do for your overall well-being is to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a debt professional who can listen to your story and help you move forward.
A Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) will sit down with you, address the ways in which debt is taking on toll on your quality of life and review all your options.
Often, simply knowing that there’s a solution for your debt can be a real source of stress relief.
You can talk to us.
For more help on improving your financial and mental well-being check out the Canadian Mental Health Association’s resources at cmha.ca