How Debt Affects your Emotional well being

In a report by Lea Winerman, individuals in general are discussed as being prone to what Winerman refers to as ‘optimism bias’. This optimism bias is a state in which things that might not be so good are perceived as better than they actually are. Thus, applied to debt, this implies debt may up to a point, have been considered less of a problem than it actually was and/or is, and insofar as ‘optimism’ bias affects the emotions. After financial debt and optimism about it wears thin, other emotions may take hold. Winerman refers to anger in instances where debt is more public i.e. in reference to the U.S. financial bailout during its recent recession, the response is one of ‘punish’ the bad for their wrongdoing, hence anger.

Having the feeling like money is owed to someone, and that one may have to work for years or decades just to pay bills and survive is taxing on individuals’ psychological health and well being. It is taxing because debtors are placed under constant stress to perform or meet some financial objective in order to survive. This is a reality of the economic system in which we live.

I: Emotional Well Being as related Stress:

It is fairly logical to draw a connection between stress and emotional well-being. If one is constantly under stress causing pressure such as debt, one is in effect being psychological prodded to deliver. Since humans are emotional beings as well as logical thinkers, it should come as no surprise debt causes stress and therefore has an affect on emotional well-being. More specifically the emotional effects of stress may be represented by any number of the following indicators:

*Fear of not being able to pay off bills
*Unhappiness related to constant demand of debtors
*Frustration amplified by the inability or difficulty associated with overcoming debt
*Uncertainty about the future and one’s financial situation
*Apathy toward financial institutions and their goals

The above emotions are just a few of symptomatic indicators that may relate to financial debt. If one has these emotions there quite possibly is a problem. What’s more, if the above emotions are chronic or persistent they may lead to additional problems such as physical health conditions, psychological disorders and difficulties. In time, if debt is debilitating enough it may cause ore or more of the following:

*Stress related heart conditions
*Depression spurred on by constant financial weakness
*Grief associated with one’s inability to live a full financial life
*Despair linked to not being able to fulfill one’s socio-economic ‘obligations’

II: Contributing Factors in the Debt/Emotional Health Equation:

There are many variables that can make the emotional effects of debt slight or strong in one’s psychological life. Identifying and finding ways to deal with these other factors can reduce the emotional impact debt has on an individual. A few of the influencing variables, statistically called independent variables are illustrated below:

*The number of other stressors in one’s life
*Amount of debt
*Number of years one has been in debt
*One’s capacity to pay off debt or otherwise control the debt
*Psychological health including resilience, attitude, and any cursory conditions

Depending on how many of the above factors one has in his or her life, debt may or may not be a large factor in one’s emotional state. Some people may have strong resilience and determination to tackle problems in life, whether they be financial in nature or otherwise. However, not all people are the same and debt can have different effects on different people, and those effects can either be amplified or diminished by the other variables listed above.


The above article has illustrated the problem of debt as a contributor to negative emotions and/or emotional states in addition to providing examples of emotions that may accompany the debtor. In addition to various emotional reactions to debt, individuals may experience further difficulties such as physical and prolonged or semi-chronic mental conditions, to which debt may have been a contributing factor. Depending on one’s individual situation, psychological health and other debt related variables, the debt my or may not have a large influence on one’s emotional health.