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The financial impact of depression and grief

Depression and grief affect many areas of your life and this includes your finances. We take a look at how to make sure your money situation doesn't add to your worries when you're going through such a difficult time.

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Suffering from depression or a bereavement can have an adverse effect on your bank balance.

Making financial decisions is understandably more difficult and it can be harder to manage your money effectively; especially if you're having to cope with a reduced income or additional costs.

Thankfully, help is available to support you financially.

Your finances when faced with grief

Money is understandably the last thing you want to think about when you're faced with loss, but it really will help if you can keep a handle on things. If you're struggling then it's a good idea to ask a close friend or relative to help you manage your money or at least keep track of your paperwork for a while.

If you had joint finances with the person you've lost then contacting their life insurance company, banks and investment providers is the best way to get a full picture of their financial situation.

If you're not named as an executor of their will then this is something that the executor can manage for you; our guide on preparing your finances for death explains more.

If you are in receipt of certain benefits, a Funeral Payment may cover the costs but paying for your loved one's funeral is not all you have to deal with financially.

If you find yourself solely responsible for repaying debts in joint names, or are faced with bills that you can't cover alone, you do have somewhere to turn. You can contact the Consumer Credit Counselling Service for
advice on managing unpaid debts and other money worries after the death of a loved one, and they should be able to guide you.

Coping with the financial side of depression

Although effective treatments are available for depression, these are not always free.

If you need a long-term course of antidepressants for example, you'll have to cover this if you are not entitled to free prescriptions.

A prescription pre-payment certificate is available for either 3 or 12 months and can help you save money if you need several prescriptions each month - find out more on the NHS website.

In addition, or as an alternative to antidepressant medication, you may need a counselling or specialist therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), to treat your depression.

While the NHS will usually be able to offer this free of charge, if there is a long waiting list or you feel you would benefit from more sessions than you are entitled to, you may need to pay for extra.

If you are in employment, you may be able to gain access to free counselling through your workplace so this is worth speaking to your HR department about.

Alternatively, certain charities offer therapy free of charge or at a reduced rate. For instance, Mind can help you gain access to psychotherapy for a range of mental health problems, while Cruse offers free counselling when dealing with bereavement - visit the Cruse website for details.

Coping with depression at work

Depression can make it more difficult for you to work which is understandable if you're feeling low, and finding that you have poor concentration, difficulty sleeping, low energy levels, reduced motivation and increased anxiety.

A heavy workload and long hours can worsen depression, as does bullying in the workplace so if this is an issue for you then speak to your manger as soon as possible.

While just 5% of people with depression reported that they were unemployed and looking for work in a survey by UK charity Depression Alliance, more than one-third of respondents chose to leave employment at some point as a consequence of their depression.

The good news is that you do have a right to request flexible working hours and can take time out if you speak with your GP. Knowing that cover is available should you need a break, followed by a phased return to work and support from management and colleagues can all help you to better manage the long term impact depression has on your life, and keep your job.

If you do need to take an extended break from work, finding out about the financial help that is available to you will reduce the strain you are under - visit the GOV website for more information.

Facing a reduced income after bereavement?

If you've lost a partner then you may be faced with additional difficulties if they were the main earner as you're likely to be left covering the bills.

However, as long as your husband, wife or civil partner paid enough National Insurance Contributions, you may be entitled to a one-off Bereavement Payment, weekly Bereavement Allowance for one year or a weekly Widowed Parent's Allowance depending on your circumstances, and this can help you manage financially, find out more on the DWP website. Any life insurance that they had should also help here.

If your partner was responsible for managing the household finances, you may not know where to start when you have to take charge of paying the bills and choosing the best financial products. You can get help with all of this from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau.

You can get help

When you're depressed, it's quite common to feel that you don't have the energy to deal with your finances.

It can be tempting to ignore your money worries, choosing to leave bank and credit card statements and other official letters unopened, and not answering phone calls but this is just going to make things worse.

It's far too easy to get into unmanageable debt, especially if you're finding yourself spending more to help ease the pain (this is especially common with issues like bipolar disorder).

It's important you get help as soon as you realise there's an issue - whether you find yourself in debt or just unable to cope you shouldn't feel embarrassed and you won't be judged.

In fact, worrying about debt can actually worsen mental health problems, so if you are struggling to pay for essentials such as food, rent and utility bills, it is essential to ask for help ASAP and things will really start to get easier.

The Citizen's Advice Bureau offers face-to-face and over the phone debt advice, as well as a wealth of information online to help you get on top of your finances - visit the CAB website for more details.

Similarly, National Debtline is another source of independent and confidential financial advice.

Although suffering from depression or grief can significantly affect your financial situation, seeking the right advice and support can help you to manage your money during this difficult time.

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