How Money Woes Can be Bad for Your Paruresis

money woesOwing lots of money can take a big toll on your paruresis and overall mental health. Actually, even owing a little money makes you three times more likely to suffer from mental health issues, a U.K. study says. And these days, it’s a strange breed indeed that isn’t in some kind of debt. 

The Landscape

That ongoing “recession” has a lot to do with it. It started in 2007 and, despite a lot of jibber jabber that things are on the up-and-up, many budgets seem to simply keep on receding. Recent stats reported by PsychCentral say the average American can be looking at debts that can include:

  • $15,185 – average credit card debt per household
  • $30,509 – average student loan debt for those still paying it off
  • $147,133 – average mortgage debt for home owners 

PsychCentral additionally reports debt levels keep rising, and are expected to continue to do so, thanks to the perpetual “recession” and the increased costs of just about everything.

The Study

The study that examined the relationship between debt and health issues was put together by several researchers from the University of Southampton and one researcher from Kingston University. Researchers reviewed previous studies and research, with their findings published online in Clinical Psychology Review.

The study showed:

  • Of those with no mental health problems, less than 9 percent were in debt
  • Of those with mental health problems, more than 25 percent were in debt 

Being in debt was linked to:

  • Depression
  • Drug dependence
  • Psychosis
  • Suicide 

Paruresis fits into the equation due to its penchant for getting worse when other mental health issues are present. Shy bladder symptoms can become more severe and frequent, adding to overall anxiety levels and keeping the mental health woe cycle spiraling into a deep, dark hole.

The Chicken or the Egg?

While the study clearly showed an association between being in debt and the likelihood of suffering from mental health issues, lead researcher Dr. Thomas Richardson brought up a valid point. It’s kind of tough to discern which may have come first. Sure, debt can shove people into states depression or heavy drinking and drug use but, on the flip side of things, heavy drinking, drug use and depression may just as easily result in excessive spending habits.

“It may also be that those with mental health problems are more prone to debt because of other factors, such as erratic employment,” PsychCentral quotes Richardson. “Equally it might be that the relationship works both ways.”

Either way, the results are less than desirable.

Richardson suggested debt counselors consider asking folks if they’re suffering from mental health woes. And mental health professionals should check out if their patients are in debt. He also noted more research could lead to effective intervention techniques to help prevent either debt or mental health issues from fully developing.

What You Can Do

Sigh. Yes, you can go for that thing called a “budget.” While the very word may bring thoughts of Old Mother Hubbard’s bare cupboard to mind, you don’t have to live like a pauper. Being too stingy with your spending can actually backfire, leading to a thing called “frugal fatigue.”

Frugal fatigue, aka budget burnout, is a state of being so dang sick of pinching pennies that you rebel by going hog wild with money. Think of it as a spending binge, as the state is along the same lines as what can happen with food when folks go on a super-strict diet.

Setting a financial plan you can live with is a much wiser route to take. Opt for one that slowly pays off debt and perhaps compiles a little savings while it keeps you fed, sheltered and happy (or at least not feeling deprived).

How the heck do you do that?

Assess what’s really ‘worth it.’

If you simply must have those $800 cowboy boots or you’ll die, well, go for them. Just make sure they are worth the other sacrifices you may have to make to afford them. And also make sure you’re not just buying things to keep up with the proverbial Joneses or because a glossy ad told you something will change your life.

America reeks of consumerism, and it’s all too easy to fall prey. Setting your life priorities can help keep your spending reasonable and, hey, it’s OK if those boots are truly “worth it” to you.

Take advantage of (fun) apps, gadgets and tools.

There’s an app for everything these days, including helping you budget. Free tools are also available online to help make keeping track of spending a bit more fun. is a website for financial planning that always pops up, but you can find plenty of others through an online search.

Cut corners on the musts.

We all need to pay for food, housing and other bare necessities. Cutting corners on the “musts” leaves you with more money for the “wants.” Coupon clipping is a hot trend these days, and with good reason. Many supermarkets offer reward cards, gas discounts and other special deals for regular customers. Stock up on staples when they’re on sale. You may also want to reassess your living arrangements, downsizing if you really don’t need a 12 bedroom house for you and your cat or looking into the possibility of adding a roommate to the mix. 

The key to successful budgeting is ensuring you are comfortable. You don’t want to walk around feeling deprived, but you also don’t want to spend the rest of your life fearing financial insecurity. Being sensible about your spending can help you feel more in control while it can help quell fears, decrease the risk of mental health issues and lessen the impact of your paruresis.


Study Info: 

“The relationship between personal unsecured debt and mental and physical health: A systematic review and meta-analysis” is online at

Photo Credit: erika.tricroche via Compfight cc