Linking Financial and Physical Health

A recent poll from the Associated Press and AOL Health took a look at the link between financial health (or lack thereof) and physical health.

The poll was conducted in March and April of 2008 with more than one thousand adults from forty-eight states. The last time a poll like this was conducted was 2004. Comparing the two polls found that debt-related stress is fourteen percent higher now than it was four years ago. A research psychologist on the study estimated that between ten and sixteen million people are living in debt and suffering physically from the stress.

Respondents in the 2008 poll reported health issues large and small related to debt stress:

  • 51% of people with high debt stress reported muscle tension and pain
  • 44% of people with high debt stress reported migraines or other headaches
  • 27% of people with high debt stress reported ulcers or other digestive tract problems (stress may not cause ulcers, but it can exacerbate ulcer pain)
  • 29% of people with high debt stress reported anxiety
  • 23% of people with high debt stress reported depression
  • 6% of people with high debt stress suffered heart attacks

Survey participants also reported difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, and mood swings. Middle class families, women, couples with small children, and low-income working families were among those with the highest levels of debt stress.

Symptoms like those reported are similar to those experienced by people under chronic stress. And let’s face it — money problems tend to be long-term problems (unless you hit the lottery). Credit card debt in 2008 totals more than nine hundred billion dollars — it was closer to eight hundred billion dollars in 2004. With the economy slowing down and prices soaring, it looks like debt may be here to stay.

Looking to save more and spend less? The Families.com Frugal Blog and Money Blog are two good places to start.