Most students take out student loans to get their degrees and hopefully secure a better job without a second thought. But, sadly for most students, a lifetime of paying off thousands of dollars of student loans can take its toll.
It’s popularly known that inability to pay off student loans can end in numerous problems like garnished wages or damaged credits. But a recent study from the University of South Carolina shows that some ill effects like increased stress levels can result from accrued student debt.
This guide will help you understand how student loans can affect your mental health.
How Can Student Loans Impact Your Mental Health
Two factors come together to create emotional and financial stress on student borrowers.
First, many young adults have a poor understanding of the long-term consequences of their decisions, such as student loans. As a result, they tend to take higher financial risks than any age group.
Secondly, more than a third of first-year college students suffer from at least one mental health problem. And most of these students arrive in school with that mental problem already in motion.
A new college student saddled with student loan payments comes to school with additional family and job responsibilities. And that causes a psychological and emotional roller coaster.
The interesting thing is that regardless of the income, student debt can still affect psychological well-being. And there’s a study that shows that students may pick a career based on their student loan amount. That way, they can pay their debts off faster.
Of course, they can prevent them from entering their desired employment, which can add another stressor.
Student Loans And Depression
According to studies, student loans have been connected to depression, severe anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide. However, not every student with loan debts gets to the state of diagnosable anxiety or depression.
Regardless, it’s essential to get medical assistance if needed. Another problem with a student loan is feeling incapable of turning the situation around. It can massively drain you when you feel like you have no control over your finances and life.
Student Loans And The 5 Stages Of Grief
From our experience, handling student loans can also feel like Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief. Here’s how it goes:
In the denial stage, you act like you don’t have any student loans. It’s a strong emotion because it keeps us from facing the reality of the situation. You can easily fall into this stage yet cause so much harm.
When you find yourself deleting apps, turning off notifications so that you don’t see how much you owe, you’re in a denial stage. Ignoring your student loans won’t let you know how much you owe. You won’t know when your payment is due, and student loan forgiveness options to explore.
Before long, anger steps in when reality sets in; your anger begins to build when debt collectors call. It’s possible to get even mad at your lenders, society, school, or even yourself for making such a decision.
In the anger stage, you may direct the anger or blame others. By the way, did you know anger consumes energy? So you can burn out onager and even make no progress in solving the debt situation.
When the anger dies down, you may begin to find ways to get out of the student loan situation. This stage can be helpful, but it doesn’t produce much fruit in solving the debt problem.
Unfortunately, you can’t make your student debts magically disappear. And searching for quick ways to pay off your student loans can likely fall victim to student loan scams.
Even though there are legit repayment assistance and loan forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you can’t get rid of your debt overnight. So focus on realistic solutions, and you’ll find better ways to pay off your debt.
When it becomes clear that your student loans won’t go away anytime soon, you can fall into depression. These thoughts can prevent you from paying off your student loans, and worse, have devastating effects on your mental health.
Depression usually goes hand in hand with apathy. When that happens, even the smallest task can seem like a mountain climb.
After processing the emotions for some time, you may come to terms with your student debt. In this stage, borrowers accept that their loans won’t magically disappear, and they start to look for a realistic plan to pay off their student loans.
Even though student loans can have massive mental and emotional stress, you can find ways to make the situation better. The first step is to list your balances and rates, including your payments and due dates for each student loan.
Then, you can use student loan calculators to understand your repayment plans or select new ones. For example, income-driven repayment plans can make your federal loans more manageable.
You can also consider the debt avalanche or debt snowball strategies. Another option is to consider refinancing. Either way, talk to a student loan expert to guide you into the right choice.