What’s the link between mental health and debt?

Former_MSE_Debs Former MSE Posts: 890 Forumite
Poll started 18 Jun 2013

We’re updating our research on the link between mental health issues and debt problems. It's argued either one can cause the other – if you’ve been affected, see our Mental Health and Debt guide.

Please answer the question below (please exclude mortgages and student loans from the definition of "debt".)

Did you vote? Why did you pick that option? Are you surprised at the results so far? Have your say below clicking reply to discuss. If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply. If you aren’t sure how it all works, read our New to Forum? Intro Guide .

To see the results from last time, click this.


  • *KKH_KISH*
    *KKH_KISH* Forumite Posts: 180 Forumite
    The only time of my life when I've ever racked up any significant amount of debt was during some quite serious depression some years back. I bought things to cheer myself up. Then obviously being in debt made me more depressed and I was in a vicious circle. My ability to control my finances changes due to my mental state.

    Also, My partner has bipolar disorder, and is prone to spending sprees. (This is very common with bipolar disorder).

    So yes, I'd say there's no doubt that in whatever way, there are definite links between mental healt and debt problems.
    'Still dealing with my debt, but I'll get there. Keep smiling.' :D
  • Troublemaker66
    Troublemaker66 Forumite Posts: 23
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    I thought that this was a bit of a blunt instrument. I did have stress from my job and had time off, but I'd class this with the common cold. It lasted as long. I voted as one who had never had MH problems.

    My main debt problem was lack of money. I couldn't get work so had to borrow for birthday presents, or costs arising. When I had a good income and stable lifestyle I didn't get into debt, was able to pay off debt and able to save as well. Windfalls have mostly gone into capital items when interest rates were low.

    I'm in debt now because I'm selling my house, commuting across the country to care for a friend and having extra costs. Once I'm stable again, I'll be able to get out of debt and pay for repairs and improvements to my home.
  • Petef_2
    Petef_2 Forumite Posts: 15 Forumite
    A bit like Troublemaker66 My wife and I had a period of brain incapacity when we lost our son in Sharm El shaikh in 2005. It lasted for about three months, worries over cost of repatriating his body and funeral costs and repaying the the credit card for the holiday cost added to worry. It all worked out ok in the end. However, other than that, I have only borrowed money for our House and occasionally a car or other items like that. Have always ensured that (based upon earnings that were current at the time) we could repay.
  • MSE_Martin
    MSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert Posts: 8,273
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    Money Saving Expert
    I thought that this was a bit of a blunt instrument. I did have stress from my job and had time off, but I'd class this with the common cold. It lasted as long. I voted as one who had never had MH problems.

    Its bluntness isn't really a problem. This is an update on figues we've used before. In essence while of course each individual circumstances and causation varies that isn't what this is about.

    The radically different shape of responses to the poll shows very much how mental health and debt problems have a high correlation that cannot be ignored.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.
    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • torbrex
    torbrex Posts: 71,340
    10,000 Posts Combo Breaker Rampant Recycler Hung up my suit!
    I have had mental health problems and I have had limited debt (which I quickly recovered from) but they did not happen at the same time.
    I had the debt at a time when I was young, drunk and foolish and the mental health issues did not occur until many years later and debt was never part of the problem.
  • the-mango
    the-mango Forumite Posts: 818
    Xmas Saver! I've been Money Tipped!
    Wow, the results of this poll are really illuminating. There are some really obvious disparities. I didn't realise what a massive effect MH problems have on debt.
  • skivenov
    skivenov Forumite Posts: 2,204 Forumite
    I had a period of my life not so long ago where I was out of work and actively considering not living for much longer, I didn't spend on anything decadent, but at the same time, I didn't actively consider the fact that a debt was getting run up. I'm now psychologically in a better place, but am left with the overdraft and a few other lesser debts that I'm working my !!!! off to settle.
    Yes it's overwhelming, but what else can we do?
    Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?
  • Josparoonie
    Josparoonie Forumite Posts: 38 Forumite
    I managed to get myself into a right mess with my finances, robbing Peter to pay Paul etc and this had a serious effect on my Mental health. I couldn't sleep, eat, was very low, moody, snappy with my family and constantly wanted to cry all the time. In the end I went to my GP and let it all out. I was prescribed Anti Depressants and after taking these for a couple of weeks I managed to find the strength to get help with my debts. I am still on antidepressants now, although a lower dose than before and I am now in a (free) debt management plan and feeling in a lot better place and more positive about the future. I believe that there is a very strong link between debt problems and mental health issues, I think that they definately can cause each other!!. Having existing mental health problems can cause debt problems and then having debt problems can cause mental health problems!
  • Maat
    Maat Forumite Posts: 476
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    Increasing mental health problems and debts have gone hand in hand for me, each feeding the other. In the last few months I've had a complete breakdown, partly from the pressures being put on me to go for jobs I either have no chance of getting or which I know would worsen my depression, and partly because of the growing fears of my home being repossessed. It's the sheer relentlessness of it all that's broken me, not only emotionally, but physically now too. The 8 month winter didn't help either, especially as the only heat I have is a gas fire I can't afford to run and I have no hot water in the house.

    Even now I'm still fighting both my creditors and the authorities for the time and the services to help me get well enough to continue.

    With regard to money, though, I've had to give up caring. I've just started buying the things I need instead of continually trying to do without. I've coped for too long and I've not wanted to live for a while now. The debts may be getting worse, but it helps to be able to have shoes where the soles haven't worn so thin every stone and bump on the path is painful.
  • happyinflorida
    happyinflorida Forumite Posts: 807
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Combo Breaker
    Not sure if people are aware of this but if you have a diagnosed mental health problem you can ask for a note to be put on your credit file/s - this can be to the extent of "I suffer from - you can be specific or just put "Mental Health Disorder" and state that you do not want to be given any further access to credit at all. This will probably have to be done in writing and signed by you.
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