How Money is Affecting Your Mental Health (And How to Cope)

Money and mental health are almost intrinsically connected. If our mental health is struggling, it’s likely we have a hard time making money. Or, vice versa, if we’re having trouble getting by financially, it’s likely our wellbeing will suffer.

Naturally, money’s impact on mental health can feel like a vicious cycle there’s no way out of. However, there are ways to better organize your income and, in turn, reduce the strain it has on your overall stress.

Throughout this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at how money is affecting your mental health and what you can do to make better financial decisions.

The Connection Between Money and Mental Health

As discussed, there are two ways in which money may have an affect on your mental health:

1.) Mental Health’s Effects on Money

If you’re struggling with a mental illness, it’s likely you’re also struggling with money. Here are a few examples:

  • Due to depression, you may find yourself lacking the motivation to manage your finances.

  • Financial stress may cause you to avoid doing things money requires, such as paying bills or keeping track of your bank account.

  • If you have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may struggle with work or study. In turn, this can affect your income negatively.

  • If you struggle with mania or hypomania, you may make impulsive financial decisions (or you may struggle with compulsive behaviors that result in financial problems, such as gambling).

  • Spending money and obtaining goods may produce a brief feeling of happiness, but in the long run, is causing you to overspend.

Furthermore, people who are regularly treated for mental health may find themselves having to pay more for insurance in order to receive the care they need.

2.) Money Affecting Mental Health

Due to your financial position, you may also find that money is causing you mental stress. A few examples of this include:

  • Certain situations cause anxiety or panic, such as opening bills or going to a benefits assessment.

  • If you’re unable to afford necessities (i.e. food, water, housing, heating, etc.), you may struggle mentally. Furthermore, you may find yourself unable to pay for the proper treatment for your mental health condition.

  • If you’re under a lot of pressure to support yourself, you may feel overstressed.

  • Money may be affecting your social life and relationships, even in small ways. For example, you may find you don’t go out as much due to the fact that you can’t afford it. Such situations can cause isolation and make you feel lonely.

  • Too much anxiety over money may lead to sleeping difficulties.

  • You may experience guilt when purchasing things you don’t necessarily need, even if you can afford such buys.

Furthermore, people who have experienced financial abuse in the past may be affected in how they currently view money.

How to Organize Your Finances

The best way to ease these stresses produced by money is to gain control over your finances. Of course, everyone’s situation will require different means of organization. However, generally speaking, most people benefit from:

  • Build a money task into your schedule. This can include everything from paying bills to activities you plan that will require financial spending.

  • Checking in on your bank balance regularly (it may help to set a specific time).

  • Create a budget where you write down all your expenses and income. This will help you to organize your money and plan any spending ahead of time. Through this budget, it may help to make a list of things you know you’ll need to spend money on (i.e. bills, food, etc.).

  • Find ways to distract yourself. If you find money is consuming your mood, it may help to develop distraction techniques to avoid these thoughts.

  • If possible, avoid credit cards. Obviously, we all need credit and, therefore, such an endeavor isn’t possible for everyone. However, if you can, only spend the money that you have. And if you need a credit card, only use it up to the amount of money you have in your bank account.

  • If possible, use cash instead of cards. This will ensure the above point but also help you to get a visualization of how much money you’re allowed to spend.

  • Placing all important financial documents in one place (such as bills, W2s, etc.).

  • Start managing your debts. If you’re currently in any kind of debt, it’s important to start paying the minimum each month. If possible, it can also help relieve some stress by paying more than the minimum (this will also help cut down on how much money you’re putting towards interest).

    • If you’re struggling to pay your debts, it may help to get debt advice from a debt organization.

  • Start saving your money. We never know when emergencies arise and, in most cases, it can relieve some mental anguish to have around $1,000 set aside.

In terms of saving, it may help to set aside a certain amount of money from every paycheck you receive. For example, if you’re able to hold onto $100 every month, you’ll have a $1,200 savings by the end of the year.

Final Word

The techniques mentioned above are designed to ensure you’ll have a general financial security. Truly, there are a number of other ways to use your money to ensure further success and less economic stress, such as investing or opening up a 401k.

However, if you find that money is one of the number one reasons you’re experiencing stress, it’s highly beneficial to start with these basics. Organizing your income so you can both pay off bills (and debt) along with starting a bit of a savings is usually enough for people to begin taking the steps they need towards mental wellness.

Once your money is in a better position, you may find you’re able to go through with other aspects of your life that can further reduce stress. This can include mental health treatment, taking the necessary vacations, garnering a gym membership, or purchasing supplements to support your wellbeing.