Mental health and finances are intrinsically linked. In a capitalist world where money impacts almost everything, we are bound to be emotionally and mentally affected by our finances. Financial concerns are the leading cause of stress and anxiety for American adults, which can easily lead to depression, as well as feelings of guilt or shame. Money affects our self-esteem, our relationships and our ability to show up in the world.
Here are just a few ways that mental health and finances are linked, as well as tips for developing a healthier relationship with your money.
Mental Health and Impulsive Shopping
A little retail therapy every once in a while can be a lot of fun, especially if done responsibly. But for many people, this can easily turn into impulsive or excessive spending that can lead to high consumer debt and depleted savings. When going through depression, it’s very common to make purchases to help you to feel better. Shopping can provide temporary excitement or happiness that you may later regret.
There are some strategies you can try if you notice that your spending is getting out of hand due to depression or impaired mental health. One method is to specifically budget “fun money” that is set aside for shopping, going out to eat or other enjoyable activities. By planning for this in advance, you can ensure that you don’t dip into your savings or into money that should be used for other purposes. Another helpful strategy is to come up with a list of free or low-cost activities that you can turn to when you are feeling low.
If your impulsive spending has gotten out of control, you can also benefit from a few sessions with a therapist. Sometimes, we use spending to avoid uncomfortable emotions that we should be addressing. A therapist can help you to uncover the reasons for your excessive spending, which is the first step to curbing it.
Financial Stress and Anxiety
Without a doubt, money is the number one source of stress and anxiety for American adults. We constantly worry about whether we are making enough, saving enough, spending too much and whether we are sufficiently preparing for our financial future. Financial difficulties can create a sense of scarcity and can even cause tension in your relationships. The stress of your finances can leave you feeling depressed or anxious, which in turn makes it harder to manage your finances.
It’s important to remember that your mental health is a priority, even in the face of financial difficulty. Finding affordable ways to take care of yourself and to enjoy life can enable you to be mentally healthy enough to handle the difficulties that may come your way. Remember that most people experience financial difficulty at some point, so don’t be ashamed to talk to a trusted friend or partner. Even if they are unable to provide practical solutions, having a strong support system is a key element of taking care of your mental health.
For more practical assistance, you may wish to discuss your finances with a professional such as a financial advisor. Armed with tools and knowledge, you can feel more confident in your ability to improve your finances, which can alleviate some of your stress and anxiety.
Guilt and Shame Surrounding Finances
In a capitalist society, we are often judged by the contents of our bank accounts and our level of financial stability. For this reason, it’s very common to develop feelings of guilt and shame surrounding your finances. You may feel as if you haven’t made enough progress with your savings or debt payments, or you may feel guilty about overspending or being unable to afford certain things. Some people even feel guilty because they earn more money than their peers, which can lead to tension or jealousy in relationships.
It’s normal to feel an occasional twinge of guilt after a pricy night out or shopping trip, but if you are in a constant state of shame about your finances, this will affect your overall mental health. It is helpful to determine whether your feelings of guilt are based on your financial reality, or if you are simply being too hard on yourself when your finances are not that bad. Guilt is an emotion that can indicate that you may need to make some changes in your life, but if you are feeling needlessly guilty, it can be helpful to discuss these feelings with a therapist. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is particularly helpful for addressing chronic guilt or shame.
ADHD and Money Management
For many people with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), money management can be a source of challenge and stress. ADHD is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by symptoms such as procrastination, impulsivity and inattention. These traits can cause financial management to be particularly difficult for adults living with ADHD. Forgetfulness and inattention can easily lead to unpaid bills, losing track of your spending and an inability to get organized about your finances. The impulsivity that often comes with ADHD can lead to financial instability due to impulsive spending, as well as credit card debt or a depleted savings account.
Research indicates that adults living with ADHD tend to have higher levels of debt, less savings and less financial stability that their neurotypical counterparts. Due to limited knowledge about this disorder, many people don’t make the link between ADHD and impaired money management. Once you’re able to recognize the ways that ADHD impacts your life, you can begin to put systems in place to better manage your finances. Helpful strategies include automating bill payments and transfers to your savings account, so that these tasks can get done without you having to remember to do them.
If you have been experiencing stress, anxiety or depression related to anxiety, don’t be afraid to seek help. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology can help you to address any mental roadblocks to help you to develop a more positive relationship to your money. Schedule a free consult today to get matched with a therapist who meets your needs.