Debt & Mental Health: The Hidden Ways Owing Money Affects Your Life

Frustrated woman sitting at home during a blackout sitting on a couch in the living room at home.
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It comes as no surprise that debt affects mental health, but new research shows that being in debt not only increases anxiety — it can also impact your retirement plans and marital status, too.


According to a double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans commissioned by National Debt Relief and conducted by OnePoll, 69% of respondents said they withdraw from things they love due to long-term exposure to the effects of debt, reporting an increase in stress (38%), anxiety (33%) and moodiness (32%). 

National Debt Relief noted that this can also lead to divorce or even putting off marriage. Three in five Americans have considered putting off marriage to avoid inheriting their partner’s debt, and 54% believe having a partner who is in debt is a major reason to consider divorce.

The survey also found that people lose over 200 hours of sleep per year on average over their debts, as previously reported by GOBankingRates. 

“People aren’t sleeping and they’re even having nightmares. We’re losing about a month of sleep per year and people are having up to three debt nightmares per week,” Natalia Brown, chief client operations officer at National Debt Relief, said to ABC News.

Seven in 10 respondents said it feels like a “black cloud” hangs over them when they have to pay a bill or loan, and 77% reported debt would impact their retirement plans, Talker News added. 

Survey respondents also miss out on more activities when they’re in debt, turning down a night out with friends (33%), a date night (38%) and attending a wedding (36%).

Make Your Money Work for You

When it comes to the most stressful debt, 45% said credit card debt, 34% said medical bills and 32% claimed it was their monthly mortgage payment. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they wish there were tools and resources available to help them when they were at their worst in debt.

“For those struggling with what feels like insurmountable debt, you don’t need to face it alone,” said Brown, Talker News reported. “Don’t hide your financial situation, have honest conversations with your family as a means of emotional support and consider debt relief options to help you tackle your debt.”

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