New data released by the charity, Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has shown just how much financial problems can impact on our health.
Findings revealed just over two-thirds of people seeking debt advice from CAP are struggling with health problems relating to depression, anxiety and nutritional issues, while 42% are being prescribed medication by their GPs.
Essentially, people with debt problems are thought to be twice as likely to get major depression as those without, but CAP research also highlights that the link between debt and mental health issues can work both ways.
While debt can cause bad health; bad health can also cause debt. Some 11% of CAP clients got into debt because of a long-term illness and another 2% say that they got into debt as a result of mental health issues.
The economic downturn is thought to have greatly contributed to this trend in debt-linked cases of depression, and Ireland-based GP, Dr Richard McClean says the number of cases “has certainly been upwards over the past three to four years”.
However, rather than simply prescribing medication to his patients, Dr McClean believes dealing with the debt itself is a far better solution:
“It is essential. Unless you are dealing with the root cause you are just popping a plaster on. Many mild-to-moderate cases can be dealt with without medication.”
He also stresses the importance of sufferers with debt-related mental health problems seeking comfort in friends, family or advisors to help a major symptom of this kind of depression:
“Debt and social isolation usually go hand in hand. One of the things I put to people is that it is not just about getting your debt cleared but about getting you speaking to people again and getting your coping mechanisms working again.”
Counselling is considered a key psychological therapy for supporting and treating a wide range of mental health and emotional issues.
Debt counselling not only looks at ways to control spiralling debt, but it also aims to get to the crux of the problem by addressing the underlying causes and any resulting personal issues.