Debt, Depression and Anxiety

You don’t need a medical degree to identify the link between debt, depression and anxiety and the negative impact on mental health. Ask anyone who lives with debt or who cares for someone who does and they can tell you about the toll that the stress of debt takes on their daily lives.

Bell Let’s Talk Day is on January 27, 2016. This national campaign is aimed at raising money to support mental health initiatives. The other goal around this media-heavy event is to raise awareness, reverse social stigma and initiate conversations around mental health and necessary support. The message here is that you’re not alone.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association:

  • Mental illness is so prevalent in this country that everyone can expect to be affected at some point either directly or indirectly through a family member, friend or colleague.
  • One fifth of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
  • Everyone is vulnerable. Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
  • Mental illness can be moderate to severe. A staggering 8 percent of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.

Mental illness, like depression and/or anxiety, can be triggered by extreme stress. It’s no surprise then to learn of the direct link between debt and depression. A recent study from the University of Southampton in the UK showed that people in debt were three times more likely to suffer from mental illness as a result of carrying heavy debt loads. Among those carrying debts, there was higher incidence of drug use, suicide and depression.

“We focus a lot on the financial implications of carrying debt, but the mental and physical implications are as potentially damaging, if not more so,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director at the Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

It’s not easy to ask for help, especially if you are overwhelmed or feeling hopeless. It’s a brave, bold move, but it is your first step towards getting financially and mentally on track. And you’d be surprised at how much support is available if you just reach out.”

Here are some warning signs that your debt load might be threatening your mental health:

Sleep patterns out of whack

If your nights are consumed with worry over how you are going to pay those credit card bills, rather than catching your necessary z’s, it might be time to seek some outside support.

Conversely, if you find that you feel you can’t cope and are sleeping an unusual amount, this can also be a sign of debt fuelled depression.


Is the stress of your debt making you withdraw from friends and family? Do you find yourself unable to enjoy or participate in activities that used to bring you pleasure? It’s one thing if you can’t afford to do these things, but if you feel yourself retreating because you just don’t feel up to it, that can be a warning sign as well.


Some common symptoms of anxiety include restlessness, inattention, irritability, or fear (irrational or otherwise). Physical symptoms can include nausea, difficulty breathing and heart palpitations.

Do you find yourself experiencing these as a result of your debt?

Help is there

There is support available to assist you with your mental health concerns. There is also support available to deal with the root cause of the problem- your debt. Asking for help isn’t weak. It’s an act of bravery that will ultimately help you get your life back on track.

Is your debt load causing you symptoms of anxiety or depression? Taking control of your finances will help you in all areas of your life. We can help. Call one of our trained credit counsellors 1-888-294-3130 or check out our free online debt analysis tool to get started.

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