People of any socioeconomic background can experience mental health conditions.

You can have depression regardless of how much money you have or make. Although money makes some aspects of life easier, there are other factors that play into mental health and well-being.

The wealthy can get depressed the same way people living in poverty can experience depression. In fact, depression is a common mental health condition that affects 5% of adults worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

While having money does help, there’s a point where it doesn’t make a person happier. The causes of mental health conditions such as depression among the wealthy are varied and complex.

It’s true that wealthy people also experience depression. Still, there’s more research on the relationship between financial stress and depression symptoms.

One recent study, for example, found that people experiencing more significant financial stress during the COVID-19 pandemic had greater rates of depression.

And research from 2018 concludes that perceived wealth may actually prevent symptoms of depression. The study also found a positive relationship between income and health. This may be because having money allows you to live a healthier life, which in turn, may improve happiness, according to the study.

A study from 2007 done in Canada found that people with the highest rates of depression are those living with an income of less than $10,000 a year.

Essentially, if you live in poverty, you’re more likely to experience depression symptoms. And, as people make more money, their rates of depression decrease.

However, at a certain income threshold, depression rates start to increase again.

Does having money make life easier and more fulfilling?

To answer that question, Dr. Meghan Marcum, a board certified clinical psychologist based in Orange County, California, points to a Princeton study from 2010 that suggests high income doesn’t necessarily improve emotional well-being.

Below the threshold amount cited in the study, which Marcum estimates is about $95,000 a year in today’s economy, money serves to meet basic needs, such as shelter and access to health services. Being able to have your basic needs met can help your mental health.

Marcum says that while having money can help people meet universal needs, wealth can also cause stress. However, “the psychological and social factors may look different for people with low versus high income,” she adds.

For someone who can’t afford basic necessities like food and shelter, the stressor is obvious.

Well-off people, on the other hand, may experience stress factors that relate specifically to being wealthy, Marcum says. These include:

  • feeling pressured to live up to a certain expectation
  • being the sole supporter for other family members
  • feeling obligated to maintain their social status

All these factors can lead to or contribute to symptoms of depression.

Research shows that wealthy countries do experience higher rates of depression, Marcum says.

Also, children of wealthy parents may have a higher chance of developing mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

However, the reasons for the higher rates aren’t clear.

“We do know depression is the leading cause of disability across the globe, so overall, every country has some risk,” Marcum says. She adds that being wealthy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll experience depression.

In fact, studies suggest that being female means you have a higher chance of having depression compared to being wealthy, according to Marcum.

People who are financially successful experience depression the same way people who are less financially successful and have a lower income do.

“The old saying ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ is often true despite the benefits that are afforded to wealthy people,” Marcum says.

However, according to a 2020 study, family wealth in the United States — that is, savings greater than $20,000 — may be associated with lower instances of depression symptoms.

Regardless of income, some conditions and factors can affect people across the board, such as:

The root cause of some of these may be different for a wealthy person. Someone with money may experience family conflict because of money, for example. Yet people on either end of the income spectrum can experience all of the above.

You can’t replace a loved one even if you have piles of money, for example. And while in some countries, millionaires may have better access to healthcare, money can’t cure cancer and other chronic or terminal conditions.

Also, financially successful people like CEOs and high-powered attorneys may experience high rates of depression because they work long hours and sleep less. They may also feel the need to meet high expectations.

“Being extremely wealthy can also cause feelings of disconnection,” Marcum says. It can be difficult, for example, to make friends and close connections who aren’t solely interested in you for your money, she says.

And even if that’s not the reality, you may constantly wonder about people’s motivations.

“There is virtually no one who is immune to mental health problems, and in the fast-paced world we live in today, problems like depression know no boundaries,” Marcum says.

Depression can affect anyone — no matter your income level or degree of financial success.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety that begin to affect your ability to function daily, it may be helpful to seek help from a mental health professional.

Living with depression can be challenging, but a professional can help you find the right tools to treat your mental health condition.

If you don’t know where to look for help, consider browsing Psych Central’s Find a Therapist tool.