The connection between mental health and finances
According to the Canterbury District Health Board, about one in six New Zealand adults had been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some point in their lives.
Mental health issues can be serious and are often tough to deal with. For some people, problems with money can cause them to develop mental health issues. On the other hand, mental health issues can also have an impact on how other people behave with money.
CAN FINANCIAL PROBLEMS CAUSE DEPRESSION?
Financial problems are stressful and often unexpected. They can happen to anyone. Your washing machine could suddenly break down, your car suddenly won't start, or problems at work could suddenly lead you to lose your job.
Although stressful, most people manage to take on these challenges and bounce back. However, if this stress is left untreated for too long, it can eventually go deeper and cause anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.
This is why it is important to remember that help is always available for when the financial issues do happen. MoneyTalks and Sorted provide free budgeting and financial advice when you need it. Don't be afraid to go to a professional if the worst does happen.
Money doesn't buy happiness, but a lack of financial stability can take a great toll on your mental health.
CAN DEPRESSION CAUSE FINANCIAL PROBLEMS?
Some days are heavier than others. You can't figure out why - there's nothing particularly different about this day and it's much like the other days that have come and gone. However, one thing that you are sure of is that creeping, empty feeling inside you that just won't let go.
After a while, it can be tempting to run towards the nearest thing that can make us feel better. For many, this may be in the form of retail therapy. Whether this is online or at the shopping malls, many people relieve their ‘down days’ by shopping.
Unfortunately, these quick fixes won't make this empty feeling go away. And, if you end up relying on spending to relieve yourself from this feeling, you can find yourself in financial hot water sooner rather than later.
Using spending as an outlet, whether it be frequently or infrequently, can leave you with the lingering issue of credit card debt or hire purchases down the line. Plus, if you have trouble paying off these debts on time, the stress can retrigger these mental health issues all over again, causing you to get stuck in a terrible cycle.
Others are simply so distracted by the depressing feeling that they make financial decisions that aren't in their best interests. Being unwell mentally has been shown to negatively impact a person's ability to make good choices: whether that's being able to remember to pay the utility bill, keeping credit card payments regular, or even being able to go to work.
This "foggy brain" can come and go, but if it strikes at the wrong time, it can result in financial issues that are in no way the sufferers fault - but they still must find a way to deal with it all the same.
RECOGNISING AND DEALING WITH DEPRESSION
There are several symptoms to keep an eye out for in yourself and those around you that could indicate someone is suffering from depression. These include:
- feeling tired all the time
- getting too much sleep or not enough
- feeling worthless and helpless
- thinking about death a lot
- having no energy and feelings of low self-esteem
- loss of appetite or overeating
- sadness or emotional ‘numbness’
- loss of pleasure in everyday activities
- irritability or anxiety
- poor concentration
- feeling guilty, or crying for no apparent reason.
If you notice any (or all) of these symptoms, take the time to check in with the person you're concerned about - even if that's yourself.
Dealing with depression can be overwhelming. Start with small steps:
- Accept what you are feeling.
- Forgive yourself for what you are feeling.
- Ask for help.
Building simple but important habits can also go a long way towards beating depression. Getting good sleep as well as regular exercise will naturally help you feel better. Being in regular contact with other people, such as playing sports or joining a support group, is also a great way to escape the temptation of just keeping to yourself.
Even having a simple conversation can help when it comes to dealing with depression. However, there will be times where it can be challenging to find someone to talk to. During these times, there will always be someone ready to listen to you through the following channels:
WHERE TO GET HELP
- Mental Health Foundation
- Depression.org.nz: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202
- Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
- Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
If you'd like to read more about this topic, here's a recent article by the Commission For Financial Capability about how financial stress impacts mental health.