Bankruptcy Can Affect Mental Health
Most of us are familiar with the feelings that come with financial struggles: stress, frustration, anxiety, and humiliation, to name a few. It makes sense that these emotions are more intense and difficult to overcome with a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, and experts say they can have serious ramifications.
However, the act of filing for bankruptcy may bring a feeling of finality, and may actually reduce a debtor’s feelings of stress, one expert says. “There is a sense of relief from having the debts discharged, and not having to worry about finances so much,” said management professor Kristi Davison.
But until you have reached that finale of sorts, the road to bankruptcy can be a difficult and stressful one. According to clinical psychologist Bradley Klontz, most Americans place too much importance on money. “Many of us confuse our self worth with our net worth. As such, financial problems can deal devastating blows to our self-esteem,” he said. “Bankruptcy can lead us to feelings of guilt and shame, and cause us to isolate from our family and friends out of embarrassment.”
This tendency toward isolation causes men to be more affected by bankruptcy, Klontz says. Women are more likely to lean on their social networks, while men internalize their perceived failure. “Women often have a more balanced sense of self, as they tend to have closer emotional and social ties to family and friends,” Klontz said. “As such, their sense of self and value to others is often more diversified than men, whose self-esteem may be invested exclusively in their role as a provider.”
There are ways to deal with the emotional side effects of bankruptcy, Klontz says. First, remember that you are not alone: in the first nine months of 2010, over one million Americans filed for bankruptcy. Financial setbacks are not uncommon in this country, at this time. Second, be honest with yourself. Look at the behaviors and choices that contributed to your problems, and take ownership of your mistakes and missteps. Third, commit to making choices and taking actions to ensure you don’t end up in the same situation again.
Finally, Klontz says, realize that you have the power to change your financial situation. “Don’t get mired down in the emotional glue-trap of shame and despair,” he said. “Stand up, dust yourself off, commit to doing things differently, and start over.”
Source: Empowher, “How Can Bankruptcy Affect Your Mental Health? Psychologists Offer Coping Strategies“, Rheyanne Weaver, 20 October 2010
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