How debt can affect your health­


In this article, we’ll shed some light on the various ways debt can affect your physical health and contribute to mental health problems

Your well-being should always be a top priority, but financial concerns can often push it to the back of your mind.

In some cases, it’s the burden of debt that can cause you to struggle, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and helpless..

We’ll also provide practical steps to help you alleviate the impact of your financial situation on your overall wellbeing.

The link between debt and your physical and mental health

Debt is widely recognised for its detrimental effects on people’s health. Expert research suggests that it can lead to a range of physical health problems such as high blood pressure, migraines, and weakened immune systems due to the stress it induces.

However, the consequences of debt extend beyond physical health; it also takes a toll on mental well-being.

Money worries often serve as a major source of stress, anxiety, and depression, leaving individuals feeling isolated and unsure where to seek support.

Irrespective of your circumstances, it’s crucial to open up about your feelings and concerns.

Sharing your money worries can alleviate some of the stress associated with debt, and ensure you protect your mental and physical health.

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Which debts are most likely to impact my physical or mental health?

While any form of debt has the potential to cause stress and anxiety, certain types of debt are more likely to have an adverse effect on your physical and mental health.

Credit card debt

The high interest rates and mounting balances associated with credit cards can lead to significant financial stress, contributing to both physical and mental health issues.

Student loan debt

The burden of student loan repayments can create a long-term financial strain, causing individuals to experience heightened stress and anxiety.

Payday loan debt

Payday loans often come with exorbitant interest rates and short repayment periods, making them a particularly risky form of borrowing.

The cycle of borrowing and repaying payday loans can quickly spiral out of control, leading to immense financial stress.

This constant financial strain can take a toll on both physical and mental health, exacerbating stress-related symptoms and causing anxiety.

Medical debt

Medical expenses can accumulate rapidly, especially for individuals without adequate health insurance coverage.

When faced with mounting medical debt, individuals may experience significant financial strain, leading to increased stress levels and anxiety.

The fear of not being able to afford necessary medical treatments or medications can further compound mental health issues, affecting overall well-being.

How debt can affect your health

Debt and physical health

If you’re dealing with money worries, the stress can easily make you ill. As mentioned above, it can cause high blood pressure and with your brain working overtime, it can lead to migraines.

Then there’s the times where your health is actually the cause of your money worries.

Being injured or sick can mean you’re off work – whether that be for a few days, weeks or even forever – which means your wages will be less when it comes to payday.

For some, this can make it difficult to cover all their outgoings for the month, and if you end up not being able to work at all anymore, it can be even harder.

In other cases, you may have to reduce your hours or give up your work to take care of a family member, again leaving you with little money to get by on.

Debt and terminal or long-term illness

Living with a terminal or long-term illness can make managing financial worries the last thing on your mind.

Between hospital appointments, prescriptions, and potential treatment costs, finances can easily get neglected.

This situation becomes even more challenging if you’re unable to work. It often pushes individuals into accumulating more debt or struggling to make ends meet.

In such circumstances, it’s crucial to explore all available options to maximise your income.

This includes applying for applicable benefits and seeking support from charitable organisations that specialise in assisting those with terminal illnesses.

Debt and mental health

Industry figures show over half of UK adults dealing with problem debt are also living with mental health issues.

The most common reason for this is the feeling that there’s no one there to help you.

Debt can be a big factor in poor mental health. It’s known to cause high levels of stress, anxiety and depression – especially when you’re being chased to pay what you owe.

In other cases, your mental health can be the reason for your money worries. According to the Mental Health Foundation, the lack of energy that sometimes comes with mental health issues can make it hard to keep track of your money.

They also state that making rash or unwise decisions can mean you end up overspending on things you shouldn’t.

This is especially worse in cases of illnesses such as dementia, where your decision-making ability is affected.

Mental health issues that could be caused by debt and financial stress

Dealing with debt and financial stress can have a profound impact on your mental well-being.

The constant worry about money, the pressure to meet repayment obligations, and the fear of financial instability can take a toll on your mental health.

Here are three common mental health issues that are closely associated with debt and financial stress:


Anxiety is a prevalent mental health condition that often intensifies in the face of debt and financial stress.

The uncertainty surrounding your financial situation can trigger feelings of unease, restlessness, and a constant sense of apprehension.

The fear of not being able to meet financial obligations or falling into further debt can lead to persistent anxiety symptoms.

It may manifest as excessive worry, racing thoughts, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.

The persistent state of anxiety can significantly impact your overall well-being, making it difficult to enjoy daily activities and affecting your relationships.


Financial stress and debt can contribute to the development or exacerbation of depression. The weight of financial burdens can leave individuals feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and trapped.

The constant pressure to manage debts and the inability to see a way out can drain one’s energy and diminish their motivation.

Depression often manifests as persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

The combination of financial strain and depressive symptoms can create a cycle of negative thinking and further hinder the ability to address the underlying financial challenges.


The impact of debt and financial stress can also disrupt your sleep patterns, leading to insomnia.

The preoccupation with financial concerns, worry about debt repayment, and the mental strain of managing financial difficulties can make it challenging to achieve restful sleep.

Insomnia is characterised by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep throughout the night, or waking up too early and being unable to go back to sleep.

The lack of quality sleep can exacerbate feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, further compromising your overall mental health and well-being.

Debt Solution Finder

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How do I improve my financial health?

There are various resources and organisations available to people in the UK who are struggling to pay off unaffordable debt.

Debt charities

Organisations dedicated to assisting individuals with debt problems can offer free and impartial advice.

They can help you understand your options and guide you towards effective debt management strategies.

Debt management companies

These organisations specialise in providing tailored debt management solutions.

They can help you negotiate with creditors, set up repayment plans, and provide pre-bankruptcy counseling.

How to deal with debt stress

There are many things you can do to help cope with your money worries.

The most important thing to remember if your health is being affected by debts is that you’re not alone and it doesn’t make you weak to look for help.

Support is available from a whole bunch of places, whether this be from professionals or closer to home. We laid these out for you below:

Visit your doctor

Depending on your situation, calling in the professionals to help you is one of the best support systems you can find.

Visiting your doctor and telling them what you’re going through allows them to offer you different solutions, whether it be therapy, medication or simple changes to help you relax.

The NHS has also published a guide on how to cope with money worries. It details simple things you can do to reduce your anxiety levels and even offers you tips on how to be healthy on a budget.

Family support

We often think that telling a loved one, family member or even a friend about our problems is the worst thing you can do. However, it actually does the opposite.

You’ll often find that they can offer a better support system than you think. They may even be able to help you come to a solution for your money problems and work through them with you.

Find debt help, just like Glenys

“Nothing is too much trouble, the team is very helpful. To be in this position, living with debt, is hard enough but made so much easier when you’re put at ease and there’s no judgment.” – Glenys, 5-star Trustpilot review

Get expert debt advice

When it comes to dealing with your debts, getting advice before making a decision is one of the best ways to make sure you do what’s right for you.

Organisations such as Debt in Mind, Mind and the Mental Health Foundation offer services to help you find ways to deal with your debts and health issues.

If you’re looking to find out where you’re at with your money and advice on how to deal with it, turn to Talk About Debt, one of the UK’s leading debt management companies.

We can offer you tailored advice and, if necessary, refer you to one of our trust partners. We’re here to help you find a solution that works for you, so you can sleep a little easier knowing your unsecured debt is being taken care of. Get in touch with us today.