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The Hidden Costs Of Carrying Debt

Debt is a major stressor that nobody enjoys. Many Americans suffer the same dread at the sight of an envelope arriving in their mailbox, worried it could be a well-overdue collection notice. Having debt can affect not only your physical but also your mental health. It’s important to take note of how you feel as you’re working to pay off your debt and to take care of yourself when you need some extra TLC. As you pay down your debts, here are some things to watch out for…

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Extra Stress

Money is a huge source of stress for most people, with a whopping 17% of U.S. residents not able to pay their monthly bills in full. Add to that the fact that money issues rank as one of the most common relationship problems, often leading to bitterness and even breakups.

The more stressed you feel over time, the more it affects your health. It can affect your cardiovascular system much the same as it can affect your mental health, even putting you at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s. In all, financial stress negatively impacts your overall health and wellness.

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General Health

According to certain studies, higher household debt is linked to a shorter life expectancy and worse overall health. One reason for this is that long-term debt equates to long-term stress, putting more burden on your body and mind. This extra strain on your mental and physical health makes it harder to prevent illness and then makes the recovery process that much longer.

Additionally, affording insurance or coming up with the co-pay, if you are insured, can be challenging, and could make you less likely to see a doctor. Skipping a doctor’s visit means you could mean missing the early warning signs of a more serious health condition.

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High Blood Pressure

Not surprisingly, debt has been linked to increased rates of high blood pressure. Your body often activates the “fight or flight” response, activating your nervous system, releasing stress hormones, increasing your heart rate, and raising your blood pressure.

Over time, this puts you at an increased risk of cardiovascular issues and possibly even stroke or heart attack. If possible, try to avoid holding onto debt for extended periods of time in order to keep your blood pressure in check.

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A large number of studies have determined links between debt, stress, anxiety, and depression. Financial misfortune is often a source of overwhelm and sadness, especially when the individual can’t see a way out of their current situation.

You must make an effort not to obsess over your financial situation, but at the same time, continue to chip away at that debt. There are a number of ways to resolve your debt without letting it seriously impact your mental health.

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Suicidal Ideation

After conducting a study of 7,000 individuals throughout England, it was determined that those in debt were twice as likely to consider suicide as those who were debt-free. In America, 16% of all suicides are related to serious financial issues.

Of course, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or thinking of harming yourself, it’s important to reach out for help. Either talk to a loved one, a trained therapist, or a helpline operator at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Beating debt can be tough, but it’s possible – even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. Consider some of these tips to help you start to eliminate your debt and reclaim your health:

  • Visit your doctor
  • Talk to a mental health counselor or call a hotline
  • Meet with a debt counselor
  • Make a plan

The sooner you can get a handle on your debt, the sooner both your physical and mental health will improve. Taking just a single step is a great way to get started.