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Arachnophobia. Ornithophobia. Acrophobia. Do you recognize these common phobias? The first is a fear of spiders, the second a fear of birds, and the third a fear of heights. Many of us suffer from these very common phobias. But there’s another phobia that is just as common, yet is very rarely acknowledged by any of us: debt phobia, or a fear of dealing with debt.

According to the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology and Economics, debt phobias are experienced by a larger number of adults, and this might help explain why so many of us get snowed-under by credit card bills and run-away lines of credit. A debt phobia is essentially a subconscious fear of money matters and anything surrounding the stress of money management or debt.

In a new study, the results of which appeared recently in the popular magazine Psychology Today, those with more financial anxiety took longer to react to words like “debt”, “overdraft” and “bonus.” The phobic response became more pronounced as these people started ignoring unpleasant bank statements and other financial record-keeping. Their debt and anxiety fed on each other, creating what psychologists call “a negative loop”.

How to deal with your debt

What is most interesting about this recent study, is that its authors have gone so far as to suggest that therapists could apply already-proven (and successful) phobia treatment techniques (like cognitive behavioral therapy) to correct the avoidance and reduce the impact of the phobia in a patient. This would allow sufferers to stop avoiding financial paperwork (like holding off filing their taxes, for example, or even opening a credit card statement when it arrives in the mail), and get back on track financially.

That means we could, in the near future, put aside the small envelopes and glass jars that some credit counselors advise us to use to help manage our debt problems, and sit comfortably back on a therapist’s couch to get some help with our rising bills and shrinking savings accounts.

In the meantime, anyone who feels they’re overwhelmed by debt, and cannot handle the financial pressures they are experiencing, should arrange a free consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee. A proper analysis of those financial pressures, and a discussion of such non-Bankruptcy options as the popular Consumer Proposal solution, could be the right prescription for a debt-free life and a stress-free existence.

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