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Our bank accounts are not the only thing that suffers when we are under financial stress. Financial stress is among the most prevalent and pervasive forms of stress worldwide. Money management is a crucial aspect of adulthood, and when it’s not going well, it might feel as though nothing else is going well.

There is strong evidence that a person’s financial well-being can influence their physical health, and vice versa. People who are struggling financially or having a personal economic or financial slump are far less likely to go to the doctor, pay for their medications, consider taking their medications, eat healthily, and exercise. Financial stress can lead to exhaustion, headaches, overall deterioration of health, and other problems that further impair a person’s financial management skills.

Keep reading to know more about financial stress, its various symptoms, and its effects on mental and physical health.

Financial stress is a condition of anxiety, worry, or emotional strain associated with money, debt, and current or upcoming financial obligations. Money has become one of the most ubiquitous stressors.

Based on a 2015 research by the American Psychological Association (APA), 72 percent of Americans experience financial stress at least at times. Recent economic troubles have increased the number of people enduring money troubles and hardships. In general, income is negatively connected with money stress. The lower your income, the greater your stress and the scarce options you have to cope and deal with it.

If you have financial worries, you are not alone. In this hard time, many people from around the world and all professions are dealing with financial stress and insecurity. Financial anxiety is among the most prevalent modern stressors whether your issues arise from a loss of employment, growing debt, unanticipated bills, or a mix of these things.

As with any cause of high levels of stress, financial problems may have a devastating impact on your physical and mental health, relationships, and general quality of life. Feeling defeated by financial concerns can negatively affect sleep, energy, and self-esteem. It can lead to feelings of anger, embarrassment, and fear, intensify pain and changes in mood, and even raise the likelihood of anxiety and depression.

To escape your troubles, you may turn to unhealthy coping techniques like drinking, drug abuse, or gambling. In extreme cases, financial stress can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. However, there is assistance accessible, regardless of how bleak your situation may seem. By confronting your financial issues head-on, you can discover a way out of the financial quagmire, reduce your stress, and reclaim financial and life control.

Financial stress symptoms are comparable to those of anxiety and other types of stress, but it also alters our attitudes toward money and how we feel and act about it. If you experience one of the below, financial issues may be hurting your life:

  • When thinking about being short of money, you experience anxiety symptoms such as a racing heart and shortness of breath.
  • avoiding telephone calls, postal correspondence, and meeting with creditors
  • Reducing social engagements and ignoring friends
  • feeling bad about yourself or embarrassed
  • Feeling like you are losing track of your finances or cannot keep up with expenses.
  • Anger or impatience with those engaged in your finances, such as a family member with whom you share costs or a boss who determines your salary.
  • Worry, anxiety, or pessimism about the future

There are numerous potential causes of financial stress. It is the individual’s responsibility to take care of their finances, regardless of whether they are in a financial bind due to their own mistakes, bad luck, or life circumstances.

Some circumstances that result in particular types of financial stress include:

  • College loans
  • Debt from credit cards
  • Housing loans
  • Unemployment
  • Retirement
  • Chronic disease
  • A fatal illness
  • Accidents such as car or motorcycle accidents
  • Storms, floods, and fires that cause damage to the home
  • Crime or imprisonment
  • The necessity to provide for other family and friends
  • Sustaining an addiction, like drug abuse
  • The retention of harmful or abusive relationships
  • Comparison to others

All of these circumstances have their unique subtleties and may elicit diverse emotional responses.

1. Rent or mortgage payment

Vermonters rated this as the leading source of financial stress with 9.4% of respondents, tied with the inability to retire and pay for college.

The price of living in Vermont is among the most expensive in the country, which may make it difficult for residents to pick between various financial stresses.

This makes it difficult to pay for everything, especially for expensive products like tuition, mortgages, and retirement costs, for which many don’t save enough.

2. Lack of consistent income

This was identified as the leading source of money stress by 11.7% of respondents in Rhode Island, tied with the repayment of the debt, which is difficult in states that have a high rate of unemployment.

In Georgia, this was second only to debt repayment.

With the emergence of the “gig economy,” it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a stable income; this terrible trend is likely to continue.

3. Financing education

This was the top option for 13.1% of respondents, with those aged 18-24 selecting it as their best pick.

It was also the largest cause of financial stress in Hawaii, even though the state’s public four-year college is not the most costly in the country, according to College Board data.

Even though tuition costs are cheaper in Idaho than in Hawaii, residents still rank it as their #1 financial stressor. However, residents of Idaho also have a lower median income, making it difficult to afford even the basics.

4. Desiring a better lifestyle

Fourteen percent of respondents from two places cited “wanting a better lifestyle” as the leading source of their financial concern.

The first place is, unsurprisingly, Washington, D.C., with the second-highest expense of living in the country. Another is Delaware, which it tied for first place with “not being able to retire.”

5. Inadequate resources to cover an emergency

This was not just the third most popular option, equal in percentage terms with the second highest financial stressor at 15.6 percent, but it was also the leading concern for those aged 65 and older, the age group most likely to incur significant medical bills after retirement.

In states with low median incomes, like Arkansas, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, it was the leading source of financial strain.

6. Not being able to retire

This was the second-greatest financial stressor overall, with 15.6% of respondents naming it as their primary concern; and, as expected, it was the leading concern for those aged 45-64.

This was the leading source of anxiety for New Jersey and Iowa folks, while Vermonters chose it in a three-way tie with paying for education and their mortgage or rent. In Delaware, it tied for the top spot with desiring a better lifestyle, and in Massachusetts, it tied with paying for education.

It tied for second place in Montana with not possessing enough for an emergency, and, interestingly, more individuals in more states didn’t choose it, given that so many people have little or no retirement savings.

7. Repaying debt

This was the most popular response from Alaska to Wyoming, with 20.6% selecting it as their primary financial stressor. And that was the preferred option of both sexes.

It was the most popular choice in 32 states and tied for the top spot in Rhode Island (due to lack of consistent income), Maine (due to inability to retire), and New Hampshire (tied with not having enough money to fund an emergency).

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York discovered that Florida residents, despite having lower total debt per capita, owe more on credit cards and vehicle loans per capita than the rest of the United States. Per capita, Texans owe more on car loans than they spend on student loans, based on the New York Fed.

While we all know on a fundamental level that there are several other important matters of our lives than money, stress and fear may take control of your life if you are struggling financially. It can harm your sense of self-worth, make you feel imperfect, and overwhelm you with despair. Your body, mind, and social life can suffer when financial pressure becomes unbearable.

Financial stress can result in:

Trouble sleeping

You may suffer from insomnia or be kept awake by financial anxieties. This results in a feedback cycle, as less sleep makes it very difficult to manage the impact of stress.

Absence of self-care motivation

To save money, you may reduce or eliminate some of your self-care practices due to financial worries. These may include haircuts, gym membership, dining out with friends, doctor’s appointments, and alternative treatments such as acupuncture.

Gaining or losing weight

Stress can lead to overeating as a means of numbing or calming uncomfortable feelings. However, you may find that stress eliminates your appetite, resulting in weight loss. Additionally, financial concerns may push you to miss a meal or two, thus disturbing your natural eating habits.

Depression

Being burdened by financial troubles can leave a person feeling depressed, gloomy, and unable to focus or make choices. People who battle with debt are more than twofold as likely to experience depression, based on a study conducted at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

Anxiety

Without money, you could feel insecure and scared. Worrying about overdue debts or a loss of income can cause anxiety symptoms including a racing heart, perspiration, trembling, and even panic attacks.

Relationship challenges

Money is frequently regarded as the most common source of marital conflict. Money stress may lead to anger and irritability, a loss of interest in sex, and the erosion of even the healthiest relationships if left unchecked.

Social isolation

Financial concerns can clip your wings, causing you to retreat from friends, limit your life outside of work, and hide in your shell, which will only exacerbate your stress.

Physical disorders 

Disorders like headaches, digestive issues, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. In societies without free healthcare, financial worries may also induce individuals to delay or forego doctor visits for fear of paying additional costs.

Unhealthy coping strategies

These can include excessive drinking, prescription or illegal drug abuse, gambling, or overeating. Financial concerns can also lead to self-harm or suicidal ideation.

Numerous studies have shown a cyclical relationship between financial concerns and mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

Financial difficulties harm your mental health. You feel depressed or nervous due to the burden of debt or other money troubles.

Your declining mental health makes it more challenging to handle finances. You may find it difficult to focus or lack the stamina to manage a growing stack of invoices. Or, taking time off work due to depression or anxiety may result in revenue loss.

These difficulties with money management lead to additional financial issues and deteriorating psychological problems, etc. You are locked in a downhill trajectory of worsening financial issues and deteriorating mental health.

There is always a way out, regardless of how dire your circumstances may appear at the moment. These measures can help you break the pattern, alleviate the stress of financial difficulties, and regain stability. 

The relationship between financial stress and health is profound. People who are prone to stress and are always stressed about money experience high levels of chronic stress. The stress that stems from financial problems in turn gives rise to other mental health problems. Among mental health conditions, financial stress and depression have a deep correlation.

The symptoms can be severe enough to resemble post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can be detrimental to one’s self-respect and sense of self-efficacy to feel helpless in the face of mounting financial obligations. It can separate you from your family and friends, leaving you feeling like you should stay at home and preventing you from attending social gatherings and events. You may devote all of your time (and emotional engagement) to fretting about bills, awaiting your next salary, and worrying whether you will be able to deal with an emergency if one happens.

Financial stress can contribute to suicidal thoughts. According to studies, up to 16% of suicides in the United States are precipitated by financial difficulties.

It is sometimes the other way around. Mental health can impact financial management and people finds themselves in a vicious circle.

The following are common ways in which your psychological state can affect your financial decisions:

  • If you are sad or experiencing a poor mood, you may lack the motivation to handle your funds. It may not seem worthwhile to try and fix the finances.
  • Spending may provide a temporary high, so you may overspend in an attempt to feel better.
  • When suffering from mania or hypomania, you could make rash financial decisions.
  • If your mental health hinders your capacity to study and work, your income may be affected.
  • You may avoid maintaining financial control by not opening bills or monitoring your bank account. You may strive to fully avoid the thought of money management.
  • Having a mental health condition may affect your insurance, causing you to spend extra.

Likewise, financial stress might impair mental health. Here are a few common ways that a money crisis might affect mental health:

  • Certain events, such as opening letters or undergoing a benefits evaluation, may induce anxiety and panic.
  • Financial worries can result in sleep disturbances.
  • You may not be able to pay for the necessities for your health. This may include accommodation, water, food, and heating, as well as medication and rehabilitation.
  • Financial struggles might impact your personal life and relationships. You may feel isolated, lonely, or unable to afford the activities you desire.

  1. Understanding And Preventing Financial Stress, Verywell Mind. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-and-preventing-financial-stress-3144546.
  2. Financial stress: What’s money got to do with sanity? Available at: https://www.betterup.com/blog/financial-stress.
  3. The link between money and mental health. Mind. Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/money-and-mental-health/the-link-between-money-and-mental-health.
  4. Financial Stress in Human Services. Financial Health Institute. Available at: https://financialhealthinstitute.org/learn/financial-stress.

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