People in debt suffer high levels of stress

Posted 11 December 2015

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Are you stressed out because of unmanageable debts? This isn’t uncommon, but there is a way out. Read on to find out more.

According to a new study conducted by Arrow Global, many people with problem debt also suffer a high level of stress. If you’re battling with unmanageable debt at the moment then this may not come as a surprise, but the good news is that you can break free of the cycle and improve your financial positions as well as your quality of life.

What the study told us

Here are some stats to get your teeth into from the study. Of the people who said they were struggling with repayments, 60% were having trouble sleeping at night, 32% said debt had a negative effect on their personal relationships, 24% were also battling mental health problems and 16% had an issue with substance abuse and addiction.

So it’s very clear that money problems don’t just pop up and exist independently from the other areas of your life. They are all interconnected and difficult to pull apart.

If you’re battling problem debt, the situation you find yourself in may indeed be complex. But it is by no means unsolvable.


Let’s have a look at some practical tips to help ease the effects of debt on the other areas of your life, as well as what you can do to eliminate problem debt from your life in the long term.

Physical health

It’s not uncommon for some of our customers to talk about the feeling that their money problems are making a physical ailment worse, or causing them to become ill in the first place.

Interestingly, there’s some science that could back this up surrounding the hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is released from our adrenal glands in the kidneys as a response to stress. It has an effect on many physical functions, including anti-inflammatory actions, blood pressure, immune responses and how your heart and blood vessels work, amongst others things.

It’s important to understand that cortisol plays a vitally important role in keeping key bodily functions in check and allowing us to respond to stress. So, produced in the right way it’s great! The problems arises when we don’t give our bodies chance to recover from a stressful event and allow cortisol levels to return back to normal, which can result in elevated blood pressure and sleep disruption amongst other problems. Or when our adrenal glands become so overworked that they become fatigued and we don’t produce enough, leaving our immune system weak.

So if you’re constantly living in a state of stress due to ongoing problem debt, it’s possible that this could affect your health. If you can see the signs that your money worries are starting to take a physical toll make sure that you consult your GP. They will be able to check for any problems that require intervention, can refer you to an expert if necessary and will have lots of general advice. There’s also a whole page on the NHS’s website dedicated to dealing with stress.

Mental Health

Very closely related to the section above is mental health. There’s been quite a lot of research conducted into the area of how debt can impact on mental health. If you want to look into this in more detail, this report from the mental health charity Mind is very informative and as relevant as ever.

Some people find themselves in a vicious circle when it comes to their debt and mental health. For example, perhaps you were made redundant and as a result found that you experienced feelings of anxiety and depression. Those feelings may also make it harder to job search and successfully hold down your next job. As a result you may find that you’re now reliant on credit day-to-day and this only exacerbates those feelings of anxiety and depression. And so on and so forth.

Whatever cycle you’ve found yourself in, there is a way out and seeking help is the first step. Some people seem to believe that if it’s their debt they should “just deal with it”. But a mental health problem is never something you have to deal with alone. Again, an appointment with your GP is the first port of call. They will be able to provide mental first aid as it were and can tell you how best to treat what you’re dealing with.  

Have a look at our articles on debt and depression to find out more about the connection between the two and how you can help someone else going through a challenging time.

Dealing with stress and debt

If you’re suffering with stress due to debt then you need to take action on two fronts, the stress itself and the root cause. We’ve already put together some tips on how to reduce stress in your life, so take a look at our blogs on how walking and talking can reduce stress and how to get a good night’s sleep.

Here at Debt Advisory Centre we know that things won’t get completely better in the long term until your debt is brought under control. There are debt solutions available that could help – but many people tell us that even just telling their story to one of our debt advisors made them feel better. They are good listeners and will never judge you.  Everybody’s story and debt problem is unique, but we’ve never come across a case where there wasn’t a solution in one form or other.  In some cases a debt solution may be suitable, so make sure you look at the debt help out there and know your options.

The end to this stress may be closer than you think. All you have to do is pick up the phone and have a chat with one of our advisers. They will take the details of your situation and tell you which solution would be best. There’s also lots of advice on The Money Advice Service’s website so make sure you have a look. No matter how serious things have become there is always a way out - imagine how much more relaxed and free you’ll feel when you know that you have a plan to deal with the debts that have got away from you.







by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.