What Does Financial Depression Look Like?

Financial Depression Looks different for Each Person.

Worrying about money
Losing sleep over money choices
Trouble focusing on big money goals
A sense of hopelessness regarding the future
Easily irritated
Loss of purpose
Change in daily habits; overeating or starving yourself
Feelings of hopelessness

Financial depression or anxiety manifests in many ways, but most people that suffer with it report panic attacks where they have a tightening in the chest, or it is difficult to breathe. The anxiety creates feelings of inescapable or impending doom, along with the idea that something terrible is happening, it’s growing, and it won’t go away. Tracking your emotions or actions can help boost your confidence and help you keep a clearer head when a million thoughts or fears are swirling thorugh your head.

Who Can Be Financially Depressed?

I have seen many people—poor and wealthy alike—go through personal financial depression. When money worries rule your life, many people become weary, and cease to take action. In fact, many people stop paying their bills. A common theme for depressed clients is that their downward financial situation will continue. I have been shocked to see clients walk away from their homes, knowing their mortgage ARM was going to adjust up in the next few years.

How Personal Financial Depression Can Happen

A large amount of debt, a job loss or overtime reduction, medical bills, or simply being careless with your spending can cause undue financial stress. This often results in financial depression. We call each of these instances a financial crisis. Even if you are financially responsible, one large, unexpected expense can send you into economic duress because you’re not prepared for it. A financial crisis is challenging to plan for, unless you’ve created a budget with a built-in “wiggle room.” Otherwise, you will find yourself in a very panicked state of mind.

Why? Many clients do not plan for the future because they are afraid or anxious. Others do not plan because “things” are going smoothly. When big challenges crop up, it is natural to feel surprised and scared. Being hopeless and helpless long-term affects the way you feel about life in general. Of course, it is much easier to think you will be successful when you are not worried about paying your rent. However, having a contingency plan gives you the power to focus on goals that are months or years away (instead of dealing with an ever-present financial depression).

Humor Can Lift Feelings of Depression

At one time, my friend Bill had been jobless for about two years and was in the midst of financial depression. Bill was an exciting, talented, and funny guy, but none of his positive personality was shining during this troubled time of life. His car was stolen, then he lost his phone, so he decided to throw a virtual pity party and invited his friends on Facebook to attend!

He poked fun at his financially depressing situation, and about one hundred of his friends joined in. in response, they posted hilarious comments because they like him and sympathized with his story, but felt awkward speaking about it face-to-face. The party made him laugh, and it released some of the sadness he was feeling. On a positive note, Bill re-connected with friends who supported him in the future.

How to Turn Financial Depression Around

Has financial depression evoked negativity or hopelessness in you? Are you in a negative state, or find you are pushing people away? Make a proactive choice to pull yourself out of your misery. Create a list of all the positive things you have in your life right now. Write down your financial achievements (my car is paid off, my credit card debt is reduced). Spend one day without any expenses: sit in a park, go hiking, get out in nature, shift your environment. There will always be people who have more than you and people who have less than you. Here’s a great example: Volunteer at a soup kitchen to put your situation in perspective.

Another key to fighting your way out of a depression is to make sure that you have a support structure. A formal group of people who meet monthly to hold each other accountable for reaching their individual goals is an excellent source of support. A group of friends who agree to encourage and left each other up is also a beneficial way to change your perspective.

Find a life coach. Talk to a therapist. Instead of “flight response,” try a positive “fight response” – sign up for unemployment services if you’re having difficulties finding new employment. 

Tips to Lift Up Feelings of Financial Depression

  • Create a contingency plan
  • Build or draw upon a support network
  • Explore your situation with humor
  • Practice deep breathing exercises
  • Start a meditation practice
  • Yoga
  • Exercise