Money and Mental Health

November 28, 2023

Money and Mental Health

The economic downturn is here. The cost of living is skyrocketing while our wallets are empty. Making decisions, like choosing a lunch menu, becomes stressful. How does this situation affect our mental health? A study by the UK's Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) suggests that financial difficulties lead to stress and anxiety, which in turn, exacerbate financial problems. It's a vicious cycle.

Statistics by MMHPI on the Link Between Mental Health and Money
- Half of the people with debts (46%) have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder
- 86% of people with mental health problems and debts said that debts worsened their mental health problems
- People with depression and debt are four times more likely to still have debt after 18 months compared to those without debts
- People with debt are three times more likely to consider suicide

The Impact of Money on Mental Health

Consider the scenario where you need to buy something essential but are short on money. It's typical to experience discomfort in such situations. The association between money issues and mental health becomes evident in our everyday lives. Financial problems effortlessly increase depression and anxiety and have repercussions on our social relationships. If financial issues remain unresolved, mental health rapidly deteriorates. According to MMHPI statistics, people burdened with debt have a higher suicide rate. Mental health problems that can arise due to financial problems include:

  • Physical and mental symptoms: Anxiety and fear about finances, depression, fatigue, and insomnia caused by worries.
  • Isolation: The effect on social life and relationships can cause difficulty in asking for help and lead to self-isolation.
  • Formation of bad habits: Develop unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking, or drug addiction to relieve stress.

The Impact of Mental Health on Money

Even worse, there's a high chance that financial conditions deteriorate as mental health worsens. When mental health issues arise, spending increases, and savings deplete. According to the study, 64% of people with mental health problems find it harder to make financial decisions, 42% delayed bill payments, and 38% relied on loans. In general, the impact of mental health on financial problems include:

  • Low income: Income decreases due to absences from work or unresolved or low-quality work outcomes.
  • Excessive spending: Impulsive spending to improve mood is induced.
  • Loss of control: Difficulty in managing finances or avoidance due to memory problems.

Uncomfortable Truth: Money and Mental Health are Related

In conclusion, financial problems can increase stress and cause mental problems, which in turn can affect income and expenditure, creating a vicious cycle. What can be done in such a scenario? Naturally, social welfare systems should adequately support people in such situations. That's the responsibility of the state. But what about individuals? Merely saving money will not solve the problem. We should understand our patterns causing impulsive spending and start breaking the vicious cycle from there. If you're mildly affected, you can manage it on your own. However, if you're experiencing deep depression or anxiety, you need help. A systematic approach is required to check spending-related thoughts and prevent impulsive actions.

Are you feeling down? Are you also spending extravagantly? If you can answer ‘yes’ to both questions, it's not merely a 'habitual problem' or an 'economic notion problem'. The resolution should start from identifying the thoughts that induce spending and managing the mental issues.


Fusar-Poli, P., Estradé, A., Stanghellini, G., Esposito, C.M., Rosfort, R., Mancini, M., Norman, P., Cullen, J., Adesina, M., Jimenez, G.B., da Cunha Lewin, C., Drah, E.A., Julien, M., Lamba, M., Mutura, E.M., Prawira, B., Sugianto, A., Teressa, J., White, L.A., Damiani, S., Vasconcelos, C., Bonoldi, I., Politi, P., Vieta, E., Radden, J., Fuchs, T., Ratcliffe, M. and Maj, M. (2023), The lived experience of depression: a bottom-up review co-written by experts by experience and academics. World Psychiatry, 22: 352-365.

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