Studies show high debt can increase the chances of mental and physical health problems. 

It is no surprise that having debt can cause stress. However, those studying the effects of debt related financial pressure were surprised to see the dramatic impact on mental and physical health, including significant increased chances of suicide. 

The complications of COVID-19, and the drastic increase in inflation have put many Americans in financial situations that are less than desirable. A report by LendingClub says that 61 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck— this is likely an all-time high. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, household debt, which includes mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards, is at an all-time high of $16 trillion— nearly $12 trillion coming from credit cards and auto loans.     

These statistics are adding up to financial pressure for many Americans. Based on the studies below, Americans will not just be feeling the impact in their wallets, many will also feel the costs and consequences associated with more trips to doctor’s offices, hospitals, and courts.

In a 2020 study conducted by the World Health Organization, researchers found that financial wellness is the number one cause of stress. The results indicated that 73% of people indicated “finances” as their main stressor. Similar results were found in the 2019 United States Stress survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association, which placed “financial stress” as the number one cause of anxiety, meltdowns, and panic attacks.  

A 2013 study published by researchers from Northwestern University and McGill University found that “reporting high financial debt relative to available assets is associated with higher perceived stress and depression, worse self reported general health, and higher diastolic blood pressure.” The study used data to control for prior health related and socio-demographic factors. The results showed  a correlation between high debt to income ratios and cardiovascular problems, including high blood pressure. The study went on to say “The results suggest that debt is an important socioeconomic determinant of health.”    

The study suggests that the type of debt may play a role in determining the impact on a person’s health. The study stated: “Payday loans are generally considered highly predatory and have been described as symbols of “a devalued place occupied by devalued people…  Thus, while the relative size of payday or other short-term loans may be small compared to a home mortgage or student loan, their psychosocial impact could be much greater.”

A study published in Cambridge University Press’ Psychological Medicine showed similar results from a random survey of 7461 adults.  “4.3% of adults…had thought about taking their own life in the past 12 months, ranging from 1.8% of men aged ≥ 55 years to 7.0% of women aged 35-54 years. Those in debt were twice as likely to think about suicide after controlling for sociodemographic, economic, social and lifestyle factors.”

Studies conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs during the recession of 2008, as well as a study conducted in 2019, found a direct correlation between high amounts of debt and suicide. The test group showed that 1.1% of people are likely to attempt suicide each year. However, they found that those with problematic debt are 3 times more likely to take such extreme steps. In addition to attempts, the percentage of individuals rises from 4% to 13% for those with financial problems.

While it was not a clinical study, the Center for Disease Control,(“CDC”) provided data that supports the conclusion in the studies above. According to the CDC data, 16% of suicides in 2019 occurred as a response to financial pressure.     

The Cambridge study concluded that “Individuals experiencing difficulties in repaying their debts because they are unemployed or have had a relationship breakdown or have heavy caring responsibilities may require psychiatric evaluation in addition to debt counseling.”     

Our law firm can provide help to those who are dealing with financial pressure. If you or someone you care about is struggling with the pressure caused by debt, please have them call us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Legal solutions, such as debt settlement or bankruptcy can reduce financial pressure, as well as our services to stop creditor harassment. We have helped thousands of people get out of debt.