Money and Mental Health

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Money. Not having enough can keep us up at night, having too much can leave us lonely and paranoid. And every year stories hit the news about people committing suicide over debt.

And still, many of us don't talk about money problems -- not even with good friends, family, or our partners.

What mental health issues are money troubles connected to?

Money issues can trigger or make worse mental health issues like the following:

Money and mental health - chicken, or egg?

UK policy institute Money and Mental Health found that those who experience mental health problems are over three times as likely to have problem debt then people who don’t.

But debt charity “Step Change” also suggests that at least half of people in debt feel anxious or depressed.

So what comes first? Mental health challenges, or money problems?

For many, money is definitely a key factor in developing mood issues. Something like losing a job or a foreclosure on a house can leave the best of us feeling low. Without the right support, stress can become anxiety. If we aren’t used to money issues, shame, the most powerful of emotions, can hit, making us vulnerable to depression.

For others, it’s depression or anxiety that makes money management so hard. It becomes increasingly difficult to progress in a career, and stay organised over things like finances. And depression can lead to behaviours that jeopardise our financial security, like impulse spending.

Often, though, money and our moods is a cycle, with one feeding the other.

Mental health disorders known to cause money problems

There are some mental health disorders that are directly connected to money issues. These include:

Bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder involves episode of mania, and overspending is a common problem during such periods.

Adult ADHD.

It’s hard to be organised and focused if you have ADHD, which can affect your ability to make, keep, and manage your money.

Borderline personality disorder.

Impulsivity is a major trait of this disorder, which can manifest as making purchases you can’t afford.

Dependent personality disorder.

This disorder sees sufferers exhibiting extreme passivity, and struggling to take any initiative or make simple decisions. Maintaining a career and independence can be a challenge.

How do I know if money is making my moods worse?

Ask yourself good questions about your money situation, trying to be as honest as possible. You might find it helpful to journal your answers in privacy.

  • How do I feel when I think about money? Fearful, afraid, ashamed? Or just fine?
  • Do I feel better the day I get paid, and bad at the end of the month?
  • Am I keeping secrets about my money situation?
  • Does thinking about money make me feel bad, so I avoid it? Leave emails from the bank unopened?
  • Do I turn to unhealthy habits when upset about money - alcohol, drugs, casual sex?
  • Do I often think that if only I had money, I’d be happier?

Economic abuse - do you know this danger?

Another issue connecting money to mental health that is only recently getting the attention it deserves is ‘economic abuse’.

This means that one partner uses finances to mentally, emotionally, or even physically abuse the other.

This can look like your partner refusing to let you make money for yourself, making you beg or perform for money, and/or not giving you enough money to cover basic needs like feeding yourself properly. Or it can look like a partner spending all your hard-earned money without permission, and blackmailing you to make more.

If this sounds at all familiar, do reach out for help.

Ready to stop letting money control your moods? Or to finally halt your anxiety and claim back the headspace for your finances? Use our easy booking tool to find an affordable therapist now and get talking.

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