It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and a perfect time to reflect on how you can improve your emotional well-being by getting a good grip of your purse strings.
Here at Money Nuggets, we strongly believe in tackling money problems head on – we take control of our finances, rather than letting it control us.
Mental health issues can be triggered by all sorts of things – stress at work, problem relationships and issues in childhood.
But one of the most under-discussed causes of mental health problems is money worries, and particularly the nasty debt cycle so many of us fall into.
Since the 2008 global financial crisis, there’s been a surge in money-related stress, depression and other mental health problems.
The emotional relationship we have with money can be a bit of a vicious circle. It goes like this:
Debt worry and attitudes towards spending create mental health problems which can stop you from managing your money well. The more you worry about money, the more difficult it becomes to improve your financial situation, which leads to a deterioration in mental health.
As Money Guru Martin Lewis once said: “Be under no illusions. Mental health problems can cause severe debt, and severe debt can cause mental health problems.”
One of the first steps to understanding the link between money and mental health is to recognise whether you have any of the tell-tale signs which can lead to depression and anxiety.
Once you recognise the red flags, you can start on the journey to getting better, both financially and emotionally.
What to Look Out For – 5 Signs Your Money is Affecting Your Mental Health
1. You Spend When You Feel Low
If you are depressed already or have a history of depression, this can trigger manic spending patterns. Do you tend to splurge when you feel down?
Spending while depressed might make you feel better for a short while, but this feeling can become addictive. It makes sense at the time but can lead to serious debt problems if you have been spending on credit.
Look at your spending habits – if you see that your spending is tied to how you are feeling, recognising the problem can help you to gain more control.
2. You Are Afraid of Spending Money
You may not have debt problems now but have had in the past. Or perhaps there were money worries surrounding you when you were a child.
These issues can cause intense anxiety around spending money and you may find that denying yourself basic items makes you feel better.
You may worry about money slipping away from you and this can make you feel depressed and anxious.
I know that might not sound like a problem to you. You might probably say I don’t need advice on what to do with my money, but trust us; prolonged stress and worry can affect your mental wellbeing. Being aware of the problem and seeking can help you gain control of your money.
3. You Don’t Sleep or Don’t Sleep Enough
Again, a vicious circle – the more sleep you lose the more depressed you become. Look at your sleep patterns or keep a sleep diary, if you are suffering with debt worry and insomnia then it’s time to reach out.
Remember, no debt problem is insurmountable – it’s all about understanding the problem and getting the help you need.
4. Your Relationships are Suffering
Are you arguing with your partner about money? Or perhaps you owe money to a family member and this has soured your relationship.
One of the biggest signs that money is affecting your well-being is that your relationships with family, friends and colleagues become strained.
Perhaps you don’t want to go out with friends because of your anxiety over spending money. Or you and your partner can’t agree the best way forward out of a debt problem. Or it could be that you are suffering financial abuse at the hands of another person.
If you think your relationships are being affected by money matters – it’s time to take stock and get help. Start with seeing your GP or local Citizens Advice. There is help out there; it’s just about taking the first step to finding it.
5. When You Can’t Pay Your Bills
If you are living on the breadline, you will probably be worrying about money most of the time. This can hugely affect your mental health, making it difficult to see the wood for the trees, especially if you are struggling to make ends meet.
The anxiety will hinder any attempts to improve your situation. There is help out there. Sharing your problems and enlisting help – from family, friends or a charity specialising in debt and poverty will help you find a solution.
Debt can be scary but having confidence over your finances gives you back control and leads to better mental health.
How Do I Get Mental Health Help?
If you recognise yourself in this list, don’t bury your head in the sand: it’s time to reach out.
The first rule of money-related anxiety? You can’t solve the problem on your own. Remember, no financial problems are unsolvable and with help you can see the bigger picture.
There might not be a silver bullet option that will sort everything out overnight but it only takes another person to help you take practical, realistic steps to improve your finances which will go a long way to improving your life.
Any of the following charities and organisations can help you to take that first step:
- StepChange.org: Free, expert debt advice and solutions
- National Debtline: Free, expert debt advice and solutions
- Money and Mental Health Policy Institute: Charity founded by Martin Lewis, of Money Saving Expert.
- Citizens Advice: Help and advice on debts and how to apply for emergency funds if you are in poverty.
- Mind.org: Leading mental health charity giving free, confidential advice and support on a range of mental health issues.
Over to You
Are you suffering with money-related anxiety? Have you sought help or know someone who is in need of help? Share with us here, we’d love to hear from you.