True, we are a debt-ridden country. At the end of 2019, credit card debt reached an all-time high, increasing by $193 billion to $14.15 trillion. It's a staggering figure that doesn't even account for the severe economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it's not good for our long-term health.
Regardless of who you are or why you owe money, science indicates that being in debt can have an impact on your physical and mental health. Here are just a few of the reasons to get your finances back on track.
1. Debt can lead to high blood pressure
A Northwestern University study discovered that adults aged 24 to 32 who had high debt-to-asset ratios,meaning they wouldn't be able to pay back what they owed even if they sold everything they owned, also reported poorer overall health. They also had much higher blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
2. Debt can cause anxiety
You probably didn't need a study to tell you this, but Sweet's research discovered that those with more debt reported 11.7 percent higher perceived stress levels than the average.
Debt has a negative impact on psychological health. It gives the sensation of being underwater and unable to escape, which can last for a long time and cause significant damage.
Some of the mental damage caused by debt includes worrying thoughts and catastrophic predictions about becoming homeless or unable to afford food. These thoughts can be anxiety-inducing, and in some cases, they can lead to an anxiety disorder.
3. Debt is linked to depression
It's not just young people who feel the strain of debt, either. Financial difficulties in older adults can have a negative impact on their mental health. Individuals who are in debt may struggle to sleep, eat a poor diet, and have little leisure time, all of which can contribute to depression. Depression can also sap motivation, making debt management more difficult.
4. Debt can lower your immune system
When we are stressed, such as when we are dealing with debt, our immune system responds with a fight-or-flight response, releasing major hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol at high levels. Elevated levels of these chemicals can cause serious physical harm to immune function, resulting in a suppressed immune system and an increase in illnesses.
5. Debt can affect your doctor visits
People who have a lot of credit cards or medical debt are less likely to go to the doctor or dentist for routine checkups, let alone when they're sick.
These people can't afford to rack up more debt, especially if they don't have adequate insurance. Another important mechanism to consider is that debt not only affects your health but can also prevent you from receiving necessary treatment.
6. Debt can make your neck hurt
Do you suffer from chronic aches and pains? According to an Associated Press/AOL Health poll, your credit card statements may have something to do with your physical symptoms. According to the survey, 44 percent of those with high levels of "debt stress" had frequent migraines or other headaches, compared to only 15 percent of those with low levels. They were also more likely to suffer from muscle tension, back pain, ulcers, or digestive tract issues, as well as heart attacks.
7. Debt can ruin your relationship
Debt does not have to drive a couple apart, but if you and your significant other frequently argue about it, it's not a good sign.
Debt can have a negative impact on all types of relationships. Couples may disagree on how to spend their money or how much to save. Individuals who are in debt may be resentful of others who appear to be more prosperous, which may influence how they interact. Because many people keep their debt hidden, they may feel isolated from friends and family.
If there is a silver lining to be found here, it is that according to one survey, money problems actually seem to strengthen the bond between some couples.