How Does the Average Student Loan Debt Affect Mental Health?

3 min read

Posted on August 28, 2021

Frustrated man with his hand touching his face.

Like a lot of people, you might have applied for personal loans online or went to school and now have large student loan debt that you aren’t anywhere close to paying back. If thinking about the size of your debt and calculating the accrued interest makes you feel depressed, know that you’re not alone.

The size of your student loan debt can play a huge role in your stress levels and overall well-being. It’s not just the money that gets subtracted from your income each month. It’s the feeling of being out of control when it comes to your financial wellness.

Does Student Debt Affect My Mental Health?

The student loan debt crisis has had a tangible impact on mental health in this country. In fact, the negative effect of unpaid debts on mental health has been researched extensively. A literature review published in the BMJ found considerable evidence that increased student debt has a direct impact on higher stress levels and poor academic performance.

While it’s been well established that debt and high stress levels go hand in hand, it’s also well known that stress can contribute to poor health in general. The stress that you feel over your unpaid student loans can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and many other physical and mental health problems.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to manage stress. Although you can achieve temporary relief from stress by doing inactive things like watching television or binge eating, these things will cause you to have more stress over time. It’s best to manage your stress in active ways like exercising or playing with your dog.

Avoidance Is Not the Answer

The average student loan debt in the U.S. is now over $30,000, which is a record high and a significant increase from what it was just 10 years ago. Today’s college graduates now face a post-graduate debt that they will most likely have to deal with for many years to come. Although this reality can be difficult to face up to, avoidance will only make things worse.

When you feel like there’s no solution to a problem, it’s a common behavior to try to push that problem to the back of your mind. Many people avoid even looking at their student loan bills because they don’t want to see the accrued interest. Worse, some college graduates ignore their bills altogether and end up defaulting on them.

In the article “Facing Up to Debt“, one psychology student admitted that she breaks into a cold sweat every time she thinks about her tuition fees and credit card bills. This type of physiological response to a stressful trigger is typical of many college students and graduates. However, by mentally running away from your debt, you may be missing out on opportunities to decrease it.

Tackle Your Problem Head On

The first step to taking back control of your financial wellness is to understand your problem. It may be scary at first, but you need to really look at that student loan bill to see what you’re dealing with. Write down your numbers, including all your debts and your income, and then you can start coming up with a solution.

One of the most important numbers to be aware of during this process is the interest rate on your student loans. It’s possible that you are paying a higher interest rate than you need to be paying, and you could be saving a lot of money by applying for student loan refinancing. You may also be able to consolidate your loans into one monthly payment so that your debts are easier for you to manage.

Explore Student Loan Refinance Options

One of the first things you can do is start exploring your refinance options, beginning with looking at the leading student loan refinance companies. Refinancing options could potentially save you thousands of dollars in the long term by lowering your interest rate. If you’re in a financial crisis, it may be best for you to find a solution to help save your sanity.


The information provided in this blog post is not intended to provide legal, financial or tax advice. We recommend consulting with a financial adviser before making a major financial decision.

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