Monday, November 21, 2016

The Hidden Negative Effects of Debt

Personal debt can be attributed to any number of causes, be it a medical emergency, divorce, addiction, or simply unwise spending habits.

Many people know that they should steer clear of debt in order to enjoy strong financial health, but did you know that avoiding debt can promote stronger physical and mental health as well?

Here is a look at some negative effects of debt you may not have known about.

Impaired relationships

Rarely is debt an individual matter, as debt has a tendency to encroach on relationships, marriages, and family relationships. A spouse or partner, for example, may begin to resent their significant other as a means of coping with debt.

They may blame their significant other for irresponsible spending habits, bringing more debt into the relationship, not making enough money, losing a job, etc.

Or, they may choose to hide their debt from their significant other completely, ultimately leading to impaired communication and trust.

One study conducted at Kansas State University found that arguments about money are a top predictor of divorce, while another survey by Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) reports that an estimated 37 percent of people with debt problems had those problems adversely affect their relationship with their partner.

Romantic relationships are not the only ones harmed, either. A person with debt might, for example, begin to resent their employer for not giving them enough money or for not giving them a raise.

Or, someone with debt might resent friends and family members who are financially dependent on them or who tempt them to spend money they really shouldn’t be spending.

Trouble at work 

Because personal debt is so strongly correlated with increased levels of stress, debt can be a major hindrance in your life at work.

When you are constantly preoccupied with how you are going to pay your bills, your ability to focus on your work is likely going to suffer. If things get serious enough, your career may even be in jeopardy.

And even if you are able to keep your stresses about money from affecting you at work, financial trouble could potentially put you in trouble as you navigate the market.

Some companies actually require their job candidates to undergo a background check for employment, which may include a look into your credit history and other financial information.

If you have personal debt clouding your finances, it could tell an employer that you are not organized enough to complete work on time—or not responsible enough to make decisions that will affect the company’s finances.

Increased risk of mental health problems 

It really should come as no surprise that debt is so strongly correlated with mental health issues, as debt is one of the leading causes of stress today.

According to one study conducted at the University of Nottingham, people who struggle to pay off their debts and loans are more than twice as likely to experience mental health problems such as depression and severe anxiety. 

Moreover, 29 percent of people with high debt stress report having severe anxiety. Another study published in Social Science & Medicine had similar findings, reporting that high amounts of debt are associated with higher rates of stress and depression.

The Royal College of Psychologists even reports that one in two adults with debts has a mental health problem. In short, high levels of debt can contribute to the development of depression, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, addiction, and more.

And as this article points out, mental health problems such as addiction can lead to even more financial stress.

Impaired physical health 

The effects that debt can have on your physical health are surprising. First, of course, there are the health conditions that are commonly associated with stress.

Stress may cause you to eat unhealthy foods or overeat, for example, ultimately resulting in weight gain. Alternatively, it might contribute to insomnia or restlessness, or over time, weaken your immune system.

Chronic stress can also increase your blood pressure, which in turn puts you at higher risk of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.

And finally, many people who are battling debt choose to forego the healthcare they need in order to save money. Ultimately, this decision can be highly detrimental to your physical health.


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