Expert Health Articles

Debt and Mental Health

I will preface this article with an obvious fact, I am a psychiatrist and not a financial advisor. However, studies have found that people with mental health issues are three to four times more likely to have unmanageable debt. So, which came first? The chicken or the egg? Does depression cause the formation of debt or does debt cause issues of depression and anxiety?

Let’s first look at the definition of debt. Debt, quite simply, is owing money. However, debt itself is much more complex. Debt, especially unmanageable debt, can arise from a dream or a goal that did not or cannot come to fruition. Buying a home with an unmanageable mortgage but having the dream and goal of future promotion or financial gain can certainly provoke feelings of resentment, anger and frustration. We can go through life blowing through “plastic money,” racking up credit card debt with dreams and aspirations for frivolous purchases. This can make debt own you.  

There are a number of resources available and many of them can be obtained for free. The most common theme, though, is management of financial behavior. Setting attainable goals and working in a compartmentalized or incremental fashion. It likely took years to accrue debt, it will likely take time to eliminate debt. With this in mind, the first step should be avoiding any unnecessary debt.  

If debt owns you, perhaps, it is time to re-evaluate your mental health. 

Christian Steiner, MD
Psychiatric Center of Northwest Ohio