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August 25, 2022 | By: Josie D'Addario

How Worrying About Credit Card Debt Can Lead to Poor Health

Debt Management | Credit Cards | Debt Relief

Do you ever avoid looking at your credit card statements? We understand the feeling. Credit card debt can be overwhelming, so it’s natural to avoid facing it. But what if we told you that credit card debt can cause enough stress to hurt your health? 

The truth is, credit card debt stress can seriously hurt both your physical and mental health. That’s why it’s so important to get help as soon as possible!

At Credit Canada, we see hundreds of clients who feel stressed out about their credit card debt. But with a little support, you can access debt relief options to settle your credit card debt for good. 

For now, let’s dive deeper into why credit card debt has such power over our health. First off, let’s take a look at some stats. 

Do Canadians Have A Lot of Credit Card Debt?

Why are Canadians worried about credit card debt? Because there’s so much of it.

Did you know that 48% of Canadians have lost sleep over financial stress? Of course, financial stress might stem from household expenses, trouble saving, and other day-to-day things. 

But a huge source of financial stress is dealing with immense credit card debt. 

Canadians have a combined record of $80 billion in credit card debt as of February 2022 — a near-10% increase from last year. And the story is worse for low-income Canadians, who added even more to their credit card debt due to dwindling government support programs post-pandemic.

How Credit Card Debt Worries Can Affect Your Health

We mentioned lost sleep, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for health issues stemming from credit card debt worries. 

Physical Health

Worrying about credit card debt can make you physically sick. Crazy, right? Here’s how:

High Blood Pressure

Shortness of breath, nausea, and heart palpitations are distressing symptoms of high blood pressure. 

Most people know the risk factors related to high blood pressure — which include smoking, old age, drinking, and obesity — but sometimes few or none apply might apply. 

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, credit card debt worries might be the culprit. One study from Northwestern University found that people with high debt-to-asset ratios were:

  • 17% more likely to have hypertension (high blood pressure) 
  • 15% more likely to have a stroke

The most shocking part? These findings were for a group of young adults between 24-32 years old — much younger than you’d expect to have these risks. 

Another medical study with older participants (50s) linked unsecured debt (credit card and student loans) with a 16% increase in high blood pressure. 

Joint Pain

Feeling stiff? Credit card debt stress puts you at higher risk for joint pain and stiffness — so much so that it can interfere with the activities you love. The University of Missouri study found the link to be stronger in people with longer periods of unsecured debt (many years). 

Weight Gain

Worrying about credit card debt can lead some people to pack on the pounds. One study linked credit card debt to: 

  • Insufficient exercise
  • More fast-food consumption
  • Binge drinking
  • More television watching

All of which lead to weight gain. Of course, weight gain and obesity puts you at risk for even more health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer.

Countless medical studies support the harsh fact that credit card debt stress hurts your physical health. 

Other symptoms include headaches and chest pain. But those might be symptoms of mental health issues, which can also stem from credit card worries.

Mental Health

When it comes to our mental health and financial health, it can be a bit of a ‘chicken-or-the-egg’ situation where you’re not really sure which one impacts the other: are your mental health issues impacting your finances, or are your finances impacting your mental health? In some cases, it can be both. 

Here are some ways that credit card debt can affect your mental health: 


More Canadians are depressed than ever. One survey found that 22% of Canadians reported depressive symptoms — imagine how many don’t report them. 

If it’s credit card debt making you feel depressed, you’re even less likely to talk about it. There’s still a stigma around debt, making it hard to open up to family and friends about it, let alone professionals. (If you need help dealing with credit card debt, you can speak to any of our certified credit counsellors for free by calling 1.800.267.2272. All calls are 100% confidential and judgment-free.)

Health and economics experts studied the links between debt and depression. They found that households with higher ratios of interest to disposable income (keep in mind credit cards have some of the highest interest rates out there) had higher depression scores. Moreover, those scores were significantly higher for low-income households. 


Did you know you could experience anxiety without actually feeling anxious? One doctor says you might be “used to” prolonged periods of elevated stress. 

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, credit card debt stress is so widespread we might be tricked into thinking it’s normal. 

But experts say it could lead to anxiety disorders, which can cause symptoms like irritability, headaches, and sleep issues. 

If you add depression and anxiety to an already hectic life, you can easily increase your risk for other serious health risks linked to depression.

While the health effects and risks of credit card debt are daunting, there’s always support.

Case Study: Overcoming Credit Worries

Our certified credit counsellors hear about clients’ credit worries daily. Credit card debt can be an emotional rollercoaster, filled with anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and shame. But that’s why we’re here — to help Canadians realize there’s always hope, so drop the shame, regain control, get out of debt, and live worry-free. 

Here’s a quick case study about how credit counselling propelled one client’s journey from maxed-out credit to healthy spending habits:

Before: The Darkest Corner of Debt and Stress

When this client first reached out to Credit Canada, they were having trouble making payments on a high-interest loan and maxed-out credit card while also dealing with poor credit. They had recently lost their wheelchair, stopped eating, and as a result, fell into a depression. In their desperation, they contemplated selling family heirlooms to make ends meet.

After 6 months: Financial Literacy and Freedom

After working with a credit counsellor, this client learned how to track their spending by creating a budget and following it to the letter. They stopped adding to their credit card balance and instead focused on lowering it consistently, no matter the amount. They also paid down the high-interest loan to under 25% owing. As a result, they were able to get their wheelchair back, improve their credit score, and start enjoying life again by taking part in activities with friends.

The kicker? One of their creditors offered to increase their credit limit! Thankfully, they declined the offer and even requested a credit card limit decrease

Today this client only uses their credit card for regular cat food delivery and pays it within two weeks to avoid paying interest. 

Nurture Your Health with Non-Profit Credit Counselling

Bottom line? Credit card debt stress can cause some serious damage to your mental and physical health. And when you think about all these health risks, a low credit score can be the least of your concerns. 

But credit card debt doesn’t have to have this power over your health. Sometimes, the hardest part is mustering the courage to ask for help. We try to make it easy through our completely free debt relief services. 

Our certified credit counsellors have years of experience helping people tackle their debt and reclaim their lives. Book a free consultation with a certified credit counsellor today! All of our counselling is 100% free, confidential, and non-judgmental. Our counsellors are experts at helping people get out of debt so they can get back to life.



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