Money troubles got you down? You’re not alone. In the U.S. alone, workers lose $192.3 billion every year in earnings because of depression and other mental illnesses. Depression can happen because of money troubles, and money troubles can happen because of depression. No matter which comes first — the chicken or the egg — you can find a way to keep money troubles from derailing your financial future.
Serious money problems can make you feel terrible about yourself. You fear that you can’t provide for your family, and you feel like you have no control over what’s happening. The biggest key to digging out of a financial disaster is believing that you can solve the problem. Don’t endure money troubles alone. Seek out professional help to navigate tough times.
Get Professional Help
Many psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers help people who are experiencing severe anxiety and depression over money problems. If you’re having any of these symptoms, get some professional help as soon as possible:
- Suicidal thoughts. If suicidal impulses invade your daily thoughts, or if you’ve started thinking that your family might be better off without you because of money problems, talk to a therapist as soon as possible. If you’ve formulated a plan to commit suicide, contact a suicide hotline immediately.
- Sleep disruptions. Anxiety about money can make it tough to fall asleep, or it can wake you from sleep long before your alarm goes off. Ask your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist for a prescription sleep aid or antidepressant.
- Difficulty getting out of bed. If your money problems seem so serious that you can’t get out of bed to go to work, call a therapist or doctor as soon as you can. Take some short-term disability leave from work so that you can collect some or all of your paycheck while you recuperate.
Know When to Walk Away
When you’re experiencing a significant financial crisis, such as a divorce or a default on your mortgage, be realistic about whether you can recover from the situation.
Instead of making more mortgage payments when it’s inevitable that you’re going to default, go ahead and stop making payments and contact a foreclosure or bankruptcy attorney. A failed situation is over, and you’re not a bad person because you can’t dig your way out. Foreclosure or bankruptcy can help you focus your energy on the future instead of the past.
Try a Debt Management Plan
If your credit card payments are overwhelming you, contact an credit counseling organization to negotiate lower interest rates on your cards. In many cases, your bank will slash your credit card interest rates so that you can pay the bill by making the minimum monthly payment. Usually, you make the minimum monthly payments to your creditors along with a small fee to the agency that handles your debt management plan.
A debt management plan can negatively affect your credit report because your creditors will add a statement to the report showing that you’re paying the accounts through a DMP. Also, most DMPs require you to close your credit accounts, meaning that you can make no further charges to your credit cards. However, having high balances on your credit cards can also negatively impact your credit score. Ask a credit counselor whether you’re better off on a debt management plan or whether you can pay your debts off another way.
Get Budgeting Help
Many credit counselors, community organizations, and churches offer programs for support with budgeting. In addition to getting advice on managing your spending, you’ll appreciate the accountability that comes from having to explain your spending choices to a third party.
If your money troubles are caused by unemployment, contact your local Labor Department, or look for an unemployment support group at your local library. You’ll get job hunting advice as well as emotional support from people who know what you’re experiencing. Also, group members can help you identify negative spending habits so that every penny that you earn, instead of going to something frivolous, works on your behalf.
You’re Not Alone
It’s embarrassing to admit that you have financial problems because people often assume that you’ve been lazy or irresponsible. In truth, more people have problems than you think, and you’re not alone. Find a way out, and find emotional support to get you through these difficult times.