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Is Debt Making You Sick?

Is Debt Making You Sick?

Does your credit card bill make you whoozy? Can your student loan balance sometimes get you to faint?

You're not just being dramamtic. It turns out that debt really can have a physical impact on your body. A new poll by the Associated Press and AOL Health finds that Americans are getting sick—literally—from their debt. The results showed:

--27% had ulcers or digestive tract problems, compared with 8% of those with low levels of debt stress.
--44% had migraines or other headaches, compared with 15%.
--29% suffered severe anxiety, compared with 4%.
--23% had severe depression, compared with 4%.
--6% reported heart attacks, double the rate for those with low debt stress.
--51% had muscle tension, including pain in the lower back, compared with 31% of those with low levels of debt stress.

The reports of ailments among those in debt increased 14% since the last poll in 2004. Americans are crankier and having more trouble sleeping than in years past thanks to their mounting financial concerns. When home foreclosures, gas prices and car loans are at record highs, it’s not difficult to see where citizens are feeling the pinch.

A little stress can be good for our bodies occasionally, giving us endorphins and adrenaline that pump us up to do our best. However, too much or chronic stress releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been linked to all sorts of unwanted health side effects, such as problems with digestion, the immune system, mood, memory and blood pressure.

Has financial stress been linked to a recent health diagnosis of yours? How so? [CNN]

Posted: 6/10/08