Credit cards are so convenient that many Americans say the temptation to use them – even when they know better – is affecting their mental health.

Debt.com polled over 1,000 Americans to see what role credit cards play in modern-day stress, depression, and overall mental wellness.

More than 21% of respondents say they feel stressed after using credit cards, an additional 20% say they feel guilty and 6% said they feel hopeless. Over 30% say they avoid looking at their credit card bills because it’s too painful and nearly 20% applied for new credit because they were sad or stressed.

“Credit cards are so convenient, they become a temporary solution to personal issues,” says Howard Dvorkin, CPA and chairman of Debt.com. “Shopping no longer requires going to a store. You can do that from your phone while lying in bed – and that combination is dangerous and costly.”

Over 45% claim to have missed a credit card payment because they couldn’t bring themselves to look at the statement balance.

“When you incur debt while you’re feeling awful, it never makes you feel better,” says Don Silvestri, President of Debt.com. “It not only affects your mental health, but it can spread to your loved ones.”

The social impact of debt and mental health leaves 20% of Americans out of conversations about goals and plans and 10% avoid going out with family and friends due to debt. Almost 6% of respondents say they hide credit card spending from their significant other and another 5% avoid dating due to debt.

Retail therapy, which is impulse shopping to reverse feelings of sadness, was common among respondents. While this resulted in an average debt of $1,000 or less, the numbers above that amount were concerning:

Debt over $1,000 up to $5,000 –25%
Debt over $5,000 up to $15,000 – nearly 18%
Debt over $15,000 up to $20,000 – over 3%
Debt over $20,000 – nearly 3%

Along with mental health, physical health can also deteriorate due to credit card debt. More than 5% of people say they experienced either loss of sleep, appetite, or have low self-esteem due to their credit card bills.

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