The burden of carrying debt is hugely stressful, and can often lead to depression, anxiety and debt stress. Unfortunately for many Canadians, they carry the burden alone.
Wednesday January 25th is Bell Let’s Talk Day – it is a national campaign dedicated to raising awareness around mental illness. If your finances and debt a constant source of debt stress to the point where you are suffering from anxiety or depression, then it’s time to start to take charge, and it all starts with conversation.
“When money is tight and it seems like you’ll never be able to get on top of your finances, the stress can be substantial. The other issue is that debt tends to linger over a prolonged period of time, which can continue to build, until both the debt load and the stress is unmanageable,” says Jeff Schwartz executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“Asking for help with your debts is not a sign of failure or of weakness; it is an incredibly brave step taken by someone who is committed to changing their life for the better. There is support out there and a solution in sight. It can be hard to admit that you have a debt problem, but once you do and develop a plan to combat it, it can be life-changing,” says Schwartz.
Here are some tips on how to manage debt stress:
How to get help
When you are dealing with debt stress, you need to deal with a few separate issues- your debt and then the anxiety or depression that has happened because of the debt.
To deal with your debt, gather all the information that you can about your outstanding debts and the rest of your finances. Meet with your financial advisor or seek credit counselling to learn how to manage your debt.
If you are suffering from anxiety or depression (some symptoms include irritability, loss of appetite, lethargy, stomach pain and nausea, sleeping too little or too much) start by talking to someone that you trust. It’s a good idea to visit your doctor as well. There is a great deal of resources in most communities and they can help you source them out.
Credit is not freedom
It’s a common response for many people when they are feeling down and out to head out for a little retail therapy to cheer them up. That’s fine and dandy as long as you have the cash earmarked in order to pay for the purchases.
Having room on your credit card can falsely give you a sense of freedom, because you think that you have the opportunity to shop. If you are using your card for retail therapy, you are making your problem worse.
Benefit from routine
When you’ve got a debt problem, your life can feel out of control, which can contribute to stress. A regular routine that includes a good diet, rest and exercise can help put some structure in your life- giving you back control.
Define your values
Money needs to have a place in your life, but it’s not at the top of the list. Your family, friends and health (mental and physical) are. Taking charge of your debt problem will help push money into the appropriate place within your priorities, letting you manage your stress and focus on the important parts of your life.
If you or someone you know is suffering from stress, anxiety or depression as a result of debt, it’s essential to stop the cycle by reaching out for help. Getting out of debt can start with a simple phone call. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at or check out our free online debt analysis.