Debt and Mental Health - How have your debts affected you?

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Debt and Mental Health - How have your debts affected you?

edited 8 May 2015 at 12:08PM in Debt-Free Wannabe
211 replies 198.4K views
Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Forum ManagerFormer MSE
9.6K posts
I've helped Parliament Rampant Recycler Savvy Shopper! Stoptober Survivor
edited 8 May 2015 at 12:08PM in Debt-Free Wannabe
Hi everyone,

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2015 next week (11-17 May), we’re supporting Stepchange Debt Charity and the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in highlighting how debt can play a large part in mental health issues.

We have a free Mental Health and Debt guide available for anyone to download so if you're struggling please do take a look!

Has being in debt caused you stress and anxiety?

We're launching a poll to see how many of you have had mental health issues. We've kept responses private so other forum users won't see who's voted in the poll. If you'd like to reply below and discuss that would be great but don't feel you have to.

Join the forum to vote in the poll and join the conversation: join.

Mental Health Awareness Week Twitter Chat Wed 13 May, 11am

We're hosting a twitter chat with StepChange Debt Charity and the Mental Health Foundation this Wednesday: Twitter Chat
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Has being in debt caused you stress and anxiety? 677 votes

96% 651 votes
3% 26 votes


  • immoral_angelukimmoral_angeluk Forumite
    24.5K posts
    I'm a Volunteer Board Guide
    I have chronic depression and anxiety, and was in debt from the age of 18 as soon as I could get a credit card. Over the years as relapses have come and gone, the debt has fluctuated with it. The lower I get, the more I'm likely to spend recklessly on things to try and cheer myself up without thinking of the consequences (Such as a buying holiday on the credit card). The more anxious and 'hyper' I get, the more I'm likely to 'panic buy' things (like non urgent car repairs, new carpets, etc).

    Mental health and debt go hand in hand. Money has such a stronghold on our lives, it's only natural to expect that it would affect our financial lives as well. It's a trap. On the one hand you have the viscious cycle of mental health, and on the other you have the viscious cycle of debt. They work together to create a perfect storm of emotional, physical and financial chaos that can make things 10x worse if you are not careful.

    Mental health is a very complex area, and the psychology of mental health and debt has been looked at before, but it's only really when you've lived it and been in that hell that you can truly appreciate what a desperate situation it can be.
    Total 'Failed Business' Debt £29,043
    Que sera, sera. <3
  • Gaia2014Gaia2014 Forumite
    259 posts
    Low self esteem, shame, depression and stress. Which is why I have decided to get rid of the debts once and for all. I've already lost opportunities. I would probably be married with two children now if it wasn't for the debts and how they have impacted on my self esteem. I'm starting to move in the right direction, but a lot later than I would have chosen. So yes, debt has definitely affected me. However, I think I was already vulnerable because I used to spend to cheer myself us - catch 22.
  • Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Forum Manager Former MSE
    9.6K posts
    I've helped Parliament Rampant Recycler Savvy Shopper! Stoptober Survivor
    Thank you for sharing, I know it can be hard to do.

    We want to encourage anyone with MH issues caused or aggravated by their debt to join us on Debt-free Wannabe and get the benefit of the fantastic support on here, especially as they can do it anonymously. :)
    Could you do with a Money Makeover?

    Follow MSE on other Social Media:
    MSE Facebook, MSE Twitter, MSE Deals Facebook, MSE Deals Twitter, Forum Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
    Join the MSE Forum
    Get the Free MoneySavingExpert Money Tips E-mail
    Report inappropriate posts: click the report button
    Point out a rate/product change
    Flag a news story: [email protected]
  • emmatthewsemmatthews Forumite
    678 posts
    Totally agree with the words of immoral angel. The other thing that a lot of people don't understand is that purchases made when you're in the grip of mental illness are often items that are not needed, purchasing is just a way to calm anxiety.
  • KirstyOKirstyO Forumite
    287 posts
    Debt-free and Proud!
    Anxiety was my downfall. I spent the best part of a year only leaving the house to go to work. I wouldn't answer the phone or the door and still don't answer calls where I don't recognise the number for fear it is someone asking for money (even though I have cleared all my debts).

    My worst one is a recurring nightmare where someone walks into my office or bedroom with demands for an unsettled debt that I have forgotten about - so much so that it's value has soared to 5 figures and my credit rating is damaged forever.

    My rational head tells me it's only a nightmare, and my credit file reassures me that everything is clear now, but the day after I've had one of these nightmares I find it hard to concentrate, I'm more skittish and tend to remove myself from social interactions because it has shaken me and tired me so much.
    Debt free on 2nd January 2015
    Next savings goals:
    £5k emergency fund
    £4k holiday of a lifetime fund
  • MHF_JoannaMHF_Joanna Organisation Representatives - Private Messages may not be monitored
    2 posts
    Hi everyone!

    Joanna here from the Mental Health Foundation, I'll be joining you in your discussions around debt and mental health for Mental Health Awareness Week.

    Thank you to all of those who have already posted, we have a lot to talk about. I encourage everyone to share their experiences, you never know how your story might give people the courage and motivation they need to address their worries.
    Official Organisation Representative
    I’m the official organisation rep for the Mental Health Foundation.

    MSE has given permission for us to post letting you know about relevant and useful info. You can see our name on the organisations with permission to post list. If you believe I've broken the Forum Rules please report it to [email protected]. This does NOT imply any form of approval of my organisation by MSE
  • youth_leaderyouth_leader Forumite
    404 posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Stoptober Survivor
    I've had mental health issues since I was 18 and have spent my life in debt and fear about money. I didn't open my bank statements for three years because I knew I'd over spent and when a Paypal payment was refused, realised I'd spent our mortgage savings and had to face it. I had spent £23,000 with nothing to show for it.

    I swing from checking my balance on line every day, even twice a day, to not looking for weeks and then feeling fearful when i do.

    Money has controlled me for 40 years and now I'm able to get my Teacher's pension I must set some systems in place or my lump sum will be frittered away. I have met and befriended someone who has had little money during her life and she is helping me think differently about it - she started her life working for a bank. I did used to spend to cheer myself up and have stopped that, at least.
    £216 saved 24 October 2014
  • PablosammyPablosammy Forumite
    566 posts
    Hi all - I think there are more complex factors around debt and mental health than the poll question suggests. Anybody can be affected by stress and depression with causal factors, such as mounting debts. What's possibly being overlooked is how clinical disorders can be the initiating cause, rather than the result, of debt.

    It's somewhat of a chicken or egg scenario... clearly, depression can often lead to poor decision making when it comes to spending. Depression/anxiety disorders have a certain stigma attached to them, which can lead to people doing self-therapy, and in our commercially-orientated world this can manifest itself as spending. Debt also has its own stigma, which means that people who are already used to bottling up their problems hide away further and let it get out of control. It's a really easy pit to fall into, and that's why so many of us find ourselves in it.

    I personally think my depression has caused my debt, rather than the other way around. However, with regards to the poll question, being in debt has definitely negatively affected my mental health.
  • My Mental Health has actually affected my debt.
    After a messy break up in 2011 I went from being 100% debt free to owing £20,000 over 3 years.
    I am on ani-depressant and anxiety meds, but shopping and spending is my only release. I had 12 months CBT but NHS classes a 'spending addiction' as unimportant so here I am on here trying to do it alone :)
    :A Aim to be Debt Free and Moved Out by 01 October 2015 :A
  • cat4772cat4772 Forumite
    2.5K posts
    I suffer from recurrent depression / anxiety / stress and can spend money I don't have on things I don't need (or want). I see the bank or credit card statement, get depressed and want to feel better so go shopping... and so the vicious cycle starts again with an accumulation of junk I don't have room for, some of which I've had to PAY to have removed or disposed of!

    Sometimes the spending is small (and absorbable) and other times it isn't; such as the family holiday or decorating a refurbishing a bedroom (or three)! I look at those rooms and I feel as much guilt as I feel pleasure in them. Sometimes I feel guilty that I'm depriving my family so spend money on things for them (that they don't need).

    Debt and depression (or any other mental health) do go hand in hand. When I'm depressed, I become socially isolated, or rather I isolate myself from people and spending and shopping becomes a focus. I feel lonely so surround myself with shoppers and spend money. I feel depressed at my increasing debt, so I spend money. I don't think my depression caused my debt, but it certainly helped to increase it. Membership of this forum, friends and determination have helped me to reduce my debt. So much so that I'm as excited each month to see my debt decrease as I was to spend the money in the first place.

    I read a frightening statistic that if you've experienced depression once, you are 50% more likely to suffer another episode and 80% of people who have suffered two episodes of depression will have another.
    DFW Nerd Club #545 Dealing With Our Debt
    :onever attribute anything to malice which can be adequately explained by stupidity, [paranoia or ignorance] - ZTD&[cat]
    :othe thing about unwritten laws is that everyone has to agree to them before they can work - *louise*

    March GC £113.53 / £325
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