Personal debt is a growing problem in the UK. An increasing number of people are running up bills and spending beyond their means. People find themselves in debt for a multitude of reasons. Some might be desperately trying to keep up with the Jones’. Some might be trying to provide the best for their family. Others might have simply gone overboard with unnecessary expenses. Whatever the reason, the true cost of debt is high, and comes at the expense of our mental health.
In July 2016, the average household debt was £55,442. The average credit card debt per household is £2,426. Taking into account the average interest rate, this sum would take over twenty-five years to repay. These are daunting statistics, and they are just a few of many eye-opening reminders that we as a society need to talk about debt. We need to normalise discussion in relation to money. We also need to be more open and honest about how debt impacts our minds and our own well-being.
DEBT CAN CAUSE ANXIETY
Nobody likes to talk about personal debt. Nobody likes to talk about their own mental health. Discussing the two together might make you very uncomfortable, but if you are suffering extreme emotional stress and anxiety as a result of debt, you are not alone. You need to talk to someone who can help. Refusing to seek outside help will leave you feeling alienated, isolated and frustrated.
Look out for the warning signs of anxiety. They will undoubtedly be amplified if you are losing sleep over your current situation. You might be feeling constantly worried, or near panic. If you dread the phone ringing and avoid it all costs, this is a certain indicator that your anxiety is becoming an issue. You might also feel permanently irritable. Don’t live your life in fear or isolate yourself from your loved ones. There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, 44% of people actively seeking debt help have been prescribed medication to cope.
CONSTANT DEBT WORRIES CAN CAUSE DEPRESSION
Debt and depression can create a vicious cycle. In one poll, mental health problems such as depression were identified as the leading cause of problem debt. Symptoms of depression can prompt overspending. Overspending can cause money problems, which worsens depression. The ensuing depression is often the result of being unable to see a way out of a seemingly impossible situation.
Rather than struggling alone, seek professional help. Your local GP will be happy to refer you to a therapist. Admitting you have money problems and discussing them with an impartial individual will help you get to grips with your situation. Once you are at this stage, start opening up to friends and family. If you keep your debt a secret, your situation might seem much worse than it really is.
SUICIDAL THOUGHTS ARE VERY COMMON FOR PEOPLE WITH MONEY PROBLEMS
Unfortunately, when debt is concerned, suicidal thoughts are not uncommon. According to one source, a third of people with debt problems have considered suicide as a way out. Another source states that difficulties in repaying debt is an independent predictor of suicidal thoughts.
We don’t have to look far for case studies. They are tragic and they are altogether too frequent. In 2016, a young accountant took his life due to an online gambling addiction that catapulted him into debt. This was also the case for an eighteen-year old this year, who was a mere £5,000 in the red. Remember that no matter how serious your debt seems at first, there are always solutions open to you.
WHERE TO GO FOR DEBT HELP AND ADVICE
There are many options open to you once you decide you need to get help for your money problems. First, try to talk to your loved ones. If you find this difficult, discuss your problems with your GP. There are many forums online that will offer you debt advice. They will also lend a sympathetic ear to how these issues have impacted your mental health. Debt Support Trust are there for you, as are Stepchange.
Getting practical help to resolve your problems will also go a long way to turning your life around. Find a debt management professional, who will talk you through your options. These professionals use modern insolvency software that will take all your current circumstances into account. You will then be given all the options, and whether you opt for an IVA, DMP or bankruptcy, remember that this decision is the first step to resolving your money issues and rejuvenating your mental health.
Author Bio – Yaakov Smith is an entrepreneur who provides creative solutions to everyday business problems. He is the owner and founding manager of Logican Solutions Ltd, which offers a range of industry specific products, including claims management, debt management and property portfolio management software.