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If you have anxiety you may also be wondering how taxing it can be on your life — both emotionally and financially. Here, Chelsea gets honest about the real cost of her own anxiety. Curious how your insecurity can be costing you? Check out this video:

The Financial Diet blog:

Chelsea: Hi, I'm Chelsea from The Financial Diet and today I'm going to be talking about something very glamorous and chic and that is my anxiety disorder. So as a lot of you guys know, I'm someone who dealt with just like a ton of financial problems up until the age of 22 most of my own doing. But what you guys might not realize because I don't about it a ton is how much of those problems really had to do with my anxiety. Over the past few years there has been a huge increase in the amount of openness and conversation around mental illness, especially around things like anxiety and depression, but I think one of the things that almost never gets discussed in these conversations is the financial impact of these things. So I wanted to talk about the money aspect of mental illness from my perspective. 

But first it's important to talk about some of the facts around anxiety and just how common it really is. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America. That means about 18%, over 40 million Americans are currently dealing with some kind of anxiety disorder. And even though it's a highly treatable disorder only about 1 in 3 anxiety sufferers are currently seeking treatment. Overall, anxiety disorders cost the US about $42 billion a year, which is about 1/3 of mental illness spending. And people suffering from anxiety are also 3-5 times more likely to go to the doctor than someone who isn't suffering anxiety. So it's pretty clear that anxiety is a huge thing that impacts all of us even if we don't personally suffer from it and it also has a huge financial impact, both for the individual and for our country. 

Now my anxiety has always had a financial component, especially because from the ages of 18-22 I didn't have health insurance for a lot of that time, pretty much of my own doing. Sometimes I was even just too lazy to fill out the forms. My family also experienced some financial insecurity when I was much younger, which meant that during that time I also didn't have insurance. When health insurance isn't always a given for you growing up you really start to treat illness as an emergency only situation. I'm someone who has a lot mental illness in my family a lot of which would be categorized by most people as pretty severe. So for me, the anxiety that I suffered definitely didn't enter into the category of emergency enough to really waste money on, for a doctor, for a medication, or for whatever I might need. But it was my anxiety in the first place that was causing me to not follow through with things like signing myself up for my insurance when I was a young adult. 

My anxiety had a lot of physical symptoms, but one of the biggest symptoms that to this day I still deal is these cycles of making a mistake, panicking about them and just aggravating them more and more until they really snowball. A story I recently shared on TFD was that I had broke something with my braces, and this is my 3rd time having braces, very embarrassing and I was so panicked about doing anything about it and shame filled and so riddled with anxiety about it that I just essentially walked around with superglue in my mouth because I was too embarrassed to say anything for months and months. And when it came to the actual diagnosing of the anxiety itself, it took me until I was 25 and experiencing some pretty sever physical symptoms for me to actually go to the doctor and seek treatment and get a proper diagnosis.

And for me, especially until I got that diagnosis a huge part of the way I would manifest my anxiety was in spending and a lot of people that I've spoken to who also have anxiety say the same thing. That, you know, for me it would be I'm feeling an attack, I'm feeling terrible, I can't sleep, I'm panicked, I have all these physical symptoms, so I'll go out and maybe have some retail therapy or I'll go buy a bunch of food or buy something to drink or whatever it may be. And it's not really until you're looking at that receipt later that you realize "Okay, I was spending in this kind of panicked, stressed, food state and I didn't really need or want those things, but that's now a terrible financial decision that I have to live with." 

And another huge financial component for people is the finances of actually getting treatment for these disorders. And that means, you know, everything from the therapist who might not be covered by insurance or not even having insurance to the monthly cost of prescriptions to pretty much anything that you might need to get started on the path to recovery. And unfortunately for a lot of people, anxiety is categorized to themselves and to others as not a big enough deal to justify the spending on mental health. And a lot of that has to do with the perception of others of course, but it can really be internal. And for me, as I mentioned, seeing all these other family members with more severe outwardly presenting mental illnesses, it felt to me almost like selfish or weak or self indulgent to treat my anxiety like the mental illness it was.

And of course, when it's something as extreme as you know not filling out basic paperwork over the years because it was anxiety inducing, or having superglue in my mouth, or having, you know, really bad physical symptoms, not being able to sleep, things like that. Yes, I did eventually treat it as many people eventually do, but that meant that there were years of damage, financially and professionally behind me. And I say professionally too because unfortunately, again with anxiety not always registering as a true illness, the anxiety attacks that for example could cost you a day of work are often not respected by your employers. There have been many days at work for me at different jobs where I had to make up a physical sickness because I didn't know how to say to my boss or to a coworker "I'm shaking in bed because of a small problem that's now become crippling in mind" But it's exactly that irrational snowballing that can lead people to a) spend in destructive ways when they experience anxiety and then b) avoid the financial implications of actually seeking treatment for it. 

And of course this is all effected by class because for some people unfortunately mental illness isn't an option financially. They can't treat it. They can't talk about it. They can't do any of this because they don't have the resources to make it any better. So much of my time as a "financial hot mess" was wrapped up in my anxiety and all of the terrible things that it made me do. And a big part of that recovery financially has been really practicing as much honesty as possible, confronting the things that logistically stress me out as soon as possible, and just really making sure that I do everything in my power to prevent that behaviors that then completely stress me out. It was really hard for me at first to put up the money for a specialist or for a prescription to see if it would help me or to do things like leave credit cards at home on certain times because I knew that if I took them I might stress spend into oblivion because of some little thing. 

And even though I'm not at the other end of the tunnel completely, I can say that I have a much better control over my anxiety and it does not have control over my finances. And ultimately I'm privileged enough to be able to talk about it openly, even for example, with a coworker if I need to explain an absence that is not explainable by the flu. And I encourage everyone when they think about mental illness to not just think of it in terms of it's emotional or personal implications, but to really think about it in terms of how it impacts and how it is impacted by one's finances. Because I can look at my own finances and point you to tens of thousands of dollars literally that in some way or another went to my anxiety. And part of being healthy is spending healthy. As always, thank you for watching and don't forget to hit the subscribe button and to go to for more. Bye!