Anyone who has suffered from depression knows that it can become rather debilitating if you're unable to stop dwelling on the negative thoughts that naturally result from the condition. Science has linked depression to financial hardships and a higher chance of having debt problems.
Of course, if your finances aren't in order and you're struggling to pay the bills, it would make sense that such circumstances could aggravate depression and cause symptoms to worsen. Thus, gaining complete control over your financial situation is one of the steps necessary for creating a calm and stress-free mental state that is conducive to healing and progress.
With that said, here are five actionable tips anyone can use to manage their finances better while dealing with depression:
1. Focus on Debt Reduction
Although therapists and gurus may try to convince depression sufferers that “happiness comes from within,” it's difficult for someone who is already dealing with depression to fend off negative thoughts and moods when debt, poor credit, and overwhelming financial obligations are continually compounding stress. According to Mental Health and Money Advice, depression is much more likely to afflict individuals who are in debt or those who aren't earning enough money to adequately support their desired lifestyle.
Thus, the first money management step any depressed person should take is tackling their debt. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to pay it all off at once, but simply starting a payment plan and knowing that you're on track will help you shake that feeling of having a black cloud of debt hanging over your head.
2. Use a Savings Account
Once you've decided how much you're going to allocate towards debt repayments every month, your next move should be to determine how much you can reasonably save. After doing that you can set up your current account to schedule an automated transfer for a set amount to your savings account on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. Likewise, using Direct Debits to pay bills is a good way to streamline financial management for stress reduction. (Tip: If you have a Kasasa account, automating your bills to your debit card is a great way to rack up swipes!)
If after accounting for all of your living and leisure expenses, you have little to no money left, then the best course of action would be to work on improving your employment situation in search of either a higher wage or an additional job. A steadily growing savings account will not only help you build a nest egg to fall back in case of emergencies or unforeseen expenses; the rising digits also provide a sense of fulfillment that can help nourish positive moods.
3. Focus on Recent Progress Instead of Future Challenges
When you're already dealing with depression, it's a very bad idea to purposefully focus on the difficulties of life. Instead, focus on the progress that you've been making, no matter how small. Fortunately, most people who suffer from depression still retain some basic control over their core mental state – that is, the topics they choose to think about.
In other words, no matter how depressed you are, if someone says to you “close your eyes and picture an elephant,” you still have the ability to purposefully imagine an elephant, just as you have the ability to steer your thoughts towards past accomplishments instead of coming obstacles. When the burden of what is to come starts exacerbating your depression, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and focus solely on the positive steps you have been and currently are taking.
4. Practice Budgeting to Reduce Stress when Dealing with Depression
Comprehensive budgeting is one of the best ways to avoid the compulsive spending habits that depression often encourages. Keeping a tally of everything not only helps you keep your finances organized and prevents excessive spending, it's also a highly therapeutic activity in and of itself. Uncertainty and the stress of decision-making are two factors that can greatly exacerbate depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, so having everything mapped out and taken care of within a consistent budget is the best way to alleviate those feelings when it comes time to manage finances.
5. Consider Debt Counseling and Other Forms of Therapy
Living with depression isn’t east and anyone who can recognize that they're suffering from an abnormal amount of depression will benefit from the help of one or more therapeutic professionals. This aid can come in the form of traditional counseling, financial advisory, acupuncture, yoga, massage, aromatherapy, diet/nutritional guidance, and even medication based treatments in some cases.
Improving Finances to Combat Depression
Ultimately, following all of the tips above should set you on a sure path towards a brighter financial future. Although the old saying “money can't buy happiness” may come to mind, financial stability and certainty certainly can do a lot to help a depressed person climb out of the rut and over the hill.
This article was contributed by Zoe Price.