How money and depression can impact each other both ways. Money didn't get me depressed but depression did impact my financial future

Money and depression 2


The question is often asked. Does money make happy?

Actually, not so often the question but more the statement “Money doesn’t make happy”. In my book I make it clear that money doesn’t make you happy; at least it has not for me.

Another question that gets asked: Can money (lack thereof or loss of) cause depression? I have a feeling that for some it certainly can.

In my book I write candidly (not easily) about the fact that I suffered from depression during the execution of our plan to become millionaires. I’m not talking about occasional mood swings, I have plenty of those and yes, a bad week in the stock market will get me into one. I’m talking about full swing, deep depression that ultimately led me to get professional help.

Was money the root cause of it? For me it wasn’t. Was the fact that the start of my depression coincided with the great recession helping? No, it certainly was not. Is it true that the market was on its way up as my depression subsided? Yes it was, but it certainly didn’t cure me (not sure one will ever be cured from depression).

I know why I went into depression and I know why I’m in a better place today, and even though money played maybe a minor role in both the downward trend as well as the upward trend, they weren’t the cause.

That is not to say there weren’t financial consequences to it all. In our case there were and they were significant in some ways.

Did depression put us in bankruptcy? No it didn’t, I paid cash for my psychiatric visits and was fine absorbing it. I only took medication temporarily, so there were no long term costs associated with pharmaceuticals. I didn’t drink away my sorrows; neither did I fall into unhealthy gambling habits, both possible outcomes and causes of depression I hear.

My depression had no immediate and negative short term impact on our finances. Despite my depression I was able to continue work and despite my depression I kept up my investments as usual. You might even say that depression put me on autopilot and outwardly there was little impact at all.

Depression did cause me to lose sight of the long term financial goals I had. When I was in the depth of my depression, life seemed to have little left to offer for me. You tend not to think to much about the long term. I wasn’t alone though, I had a wife and a new born child. Certainly I didn’t want to stand in the way of their happiness. Just because my life felt like a lifetime prison sentence with no parole in sight, it shouldn’t mean my family had to suffer.

During the worst days of my depression I offered my wife to move us back to her homestead. It would be good for her and our child to be close to the family she had there. I offered to move from affordable (and may I add nice and warm) Atlanta to the suburbs of Milwaukee.

I hate the cold but at the time I didn’t care. It wouldn’t be cheap, but at the time I didn’t care, it wouldn’t be as convenient to travel from (as needed for my work) but at the time I didn’t care. That was my trouble with my depression, I simply didn’t care. I couldn’t care for anything else than to do the best I could for my family.

That move however changed the long term plans I had for our finances. Living in Georgia, I had planned on retiring early and living in Georgia, it would have been possible to do so. Our living expenses then were some $45,000 which is easily managed with returns from my investments today. Our living expenses today in Wisconsin ballooned to $65,000 which is no longer easily covered by returns on my investments today.

I’m not a psychiatrist so I don’t have any real answers. It would be interesting to learn of any studies about the financial behavior of those that are in depression. Since I managed to climb out of this depression I’m guessing my decisions weren’t all bad. Whether these decisions  made financial sense or not doesn’t really matter that much in that light.

For now I would say if you are depressed see a Psychiatrist or Psychologist for sure, but should you make any big life changes while suffering from depression, maybe see a financial adviser as well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


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About Maarten van Lier

Maarten came to this country with a suitcase and a diploma. He created a financial plan and goal to become a millionaire in 10 years. He successfully turned his financial goals into reality, wrote a book about it and now blogs actively in hope of inspiring other to do the same.


2 thoughts on “Money and depression

  • Patricia Siberz

    You are a man of great courage to speak so honestly about a disease process that is usually hidden. P.S.

    • Maarten van Lier Post author

      It seems I’m already breaking the rules writing about my own personal finances, might as well go all the way. I wrote the book in hope of inspiring others to take control of their finances like we did. My depression was a big part of that journey.
      Maybe by putting the depression out in the open I might do the same for those dealing with depression too. It certainly is not easy writing about depression but it’s a little easier now that I’m doing better. I don’t have any answers for those that are currently suffering. All I can say is they better times came around for me and I’m glad I stuck around to see them.

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