As of 2023, the average U.S. adult carries $21,800 of personal debt (not including any mortgages) and may spend about 30% of their monthly income trying to pay it off (or at least keep up with the payments). Tellingly, 39% of consumers with debt issues feel like it will take them years – if not their entire lives – to pay what they owe.
All that debt isn’t just taking a big bite out of people’s wallets, either; it may also be slowly destroying their health.
The stress associated with a lot of debt can be disastrous
Money troubles can seep into almost every aspect of a person’s life. It can limit their abilities to achieve their goals, negatively affect their marriages and make it impossible to retire comfortably. It’s also stressful, and all that chronic stress can lead to terrible health consequences. For example:
- Stress is associated with numerous health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory issues, digestive problems, acid reflux and even Alzheimer’s disease
- Financial insecurity and creditor harassment can trigger feelings of guilt, depression and anxiety. People struggling with financial issues are three times more likely to commit suicide than people who aren’t burdened by debt
- Worry over debt can make it harder to rest or get adequate sleep, as well as affect someone’s appetite, which can lead to additional physical strain and make their bodies more susceptible to infections and cold
- Some people respond to the chronic stress over their financial situation by turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, like overeating, impulse spending, drugs or alcohol – all of which can ultimately increase their debt
It’s hard to make it through life without some kind of debt hanging over your head, but too much debt can clearly make you sick. If you’ve reached the point where you no longer think you can realistically keep making the payments on your credit cards, personal loans and other debts, it may be time to think about seeking legal guidance and possibly filing for bankruptcy.