Debt can be a cause, a symptom of serious mental ill-health in UAE
One of the most common initial side effects of stress incurred by debt was headaches.
Dubai - Nearly five per cent of the UAE'S population is struggling with depression, and it is expats that are hit the hardest.
Published: Sat 10 Feb 2018, 11:00 PM
Last updated: Sun 11 Feb 2018, 4:49 PM
The number of patients, especially expatriates, suffering from stress related to financial issues, depression and loneliness are increasing in the UAE, according to health experts.
One of the most common initial side effects of stress incurred by debt was headaches. A study by The Priory Group found that young adults, in particular, were suffering significantly from aches and pains caused by debt, with nearly one in three adults aged 25-34 experiencing regular headaches.
A counselling psychologist at The Priory Wellbeing Centre, Dubai Healthcare City, Tanya Dharamshi, said that her team is seeing an increasing number of patients suffering from stress where debt is a significant component. "The relationship between debt and psychological distress is complex and it can be both a cause and symptom of mental ill health," she said.
Nearly five per cent of the UAE'S population is struggling with depression, and it is expats that are hit the hardest. "The cost of buying or renting property, divorce, commuting and holiday costs, childcare, school fees, and the rising cost of living generally - all this competes with trying to save for retirement."
It can easily overwhelm, leaving people stressed out about money - stress that puts them at higher risk of lower-quality mental and physical health.
"Overspending during the festive season, in particular, can leave families with serious financial worries in January and February," she added. "Debt can arise from 'impulse control' problems that can result in excessive behaviours, such as shopping, especially when it's online. In our consumer-driven society, we might regard an addiction to shopping as a manifestation of mental illness."
Dharamshi said there were many emotional and psychological responses people may experience as a result of credit card debt.
Dr Lanalle Dunn, founder of The Chiron Clinic in Dubai, said that missing friends and family can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation in a foreign place. "It is human nature to try to associate with a group of society to feel connected and included. People often display their social standing and prestige through displays of dress and lifestyle, irrespective of the result of debt, which is now far easier to accommodate with credit cards and loans," she said.
ExhaustionIt is unsurprising that younger adult workers who are worried about debt and housing feel they must put in the most 'overtime' work - with one in 10 of those aged 25-34 working up to 20 hours overtime a week. If you are working so much that you do not have time for adequate sleep or exercise, then you're putting a sizeable strain on your mental health.
Anger and fear The strain placed on family relationships by financial difficulties associated with debt - whether through arguments between parents, or between children and parents - can have a huge impact on children's wellbeing. Tanya said parents have feared their debt had resulted in their children feeling stressed or anxious.
Depression and anxietyBecause there are creditors involved in debt (and its collection), money issues can exacerbate the symptoms of depression or anxiety. This may, in turn, lead to alcohol or drug misuse and further abuse of the 'impulse control' problem which contributes to its generation. Breaking that vicious circle is a major challenge in recovery.
"Finances and the amount of stress a person feels, as a result, can cause a person to engage in a variety of unhealthy behaviours, from overeating to smoking to experiencing feelings of hopelessness and depression."
InsomniaGetting enough sleep so that you wake refreshed is an important indicator of a healthy mental pattern. Debt, and overwork to reduce that debt, can create stress that gets in the way of this. It is important to know your limits and to understand your personal vulnerabilities - getting enough time for relaxation and exercise, and to maintain healthy relationships with family or friends outside of work, is imperative.
Restoration of optimism "While there is a significant correlation between mental health and debt, taking steps to regain control of financial problems can directly impact a person's ability to maintain emotional and physical balance," said Dharamshi.
"It is so important to recognise that mental health and physical health both need to be prioritised. We do not hesitate to seek treatment for back pain, and we should have the same attitude to our mental health. When sought early, there is a higher likelihood of successful treatment."