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The emotional effects of living with debt

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2020 | Uncategorized |

Not all debt is bad. In fact, some debt increases your net worth or has future value – like taking out a mortgage. But even if your debt isn’t necessarily the bad kind, it still doesn’t feel good to live with. The average American household has $134,643 in debt, and it’s taking a toll on their mental health.

Unfortunately, most people don’t learn how to manage their debt until they are buried in it, which comes at a heavy emotional cost. Recognizing the emotional effects of having too much debt can be the first step to turning things around.


Denial is incredibly common with overwhelming debt. Many people spend money compulsively while ignoring their financial problems, typically putting them off until they start receiving harassing calls from creditors, the threat of foreclosure or another event that forces change.

Symptoms of debt denial can include:

  • Not knowing how much you owe
  • Ignoring calls from collection agencies
  • Leaving bills unopened or hidden
  • Telling yourself everyone is in your situation
  • Opening a new credit card when you max out an old one


Stress can manifest in many different ways, and according to the American Psychological Association, 72% of Americans report feeling stressed about money. 22% feel extreme stress. Stress can negatively affect your physical health, mental health, job performance and sleep cycle. Unfortunately, debt and stress tend to go hand in hand.


Feeling angry with your financial circumstances is so common it has its own name – Debt-Anger Syndrome. This anger may be taken out on yourself for getting into this position, your boss for not paying you more, or even your kids for needing new things. Anger can jeopardize your relationships and be harmful to your physical and mental health.


If you are struggling with debt, you are also more than twice as likely to suffer from depression. Depression can lead to low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness that you will never be able to dig yourself out. Sometimes, depression can even lead to more debt, as many people shop to relieve their depression.

Finding relief

Fortunately, you can ease the negative emotional toll of debt by working on getting yourself out of it. While this is often easier said than done, overcoming debt is possible. Confront your debt head-on and determine how much you owe to create a budget. As your outstanding balances decrease each month, you can find relief knowing you’re on the right course.

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