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Economic woes linked to depression

The recession and continuing economic doldrums are likely to see the number of people suffering with depression and mental illness significantly increase as many struggle to cope with debt and money problems, a study says.

The research by the Nottingham School of Economics questioned about 8,000 people on issues including their financial situation and health, and found that people in debt are more likely to suffer from psychological problems.

In 2005, 13% of respondents to the Families and Children Survey who admitted problems over the amount of money they owed and 17% of those reporting financial stress also reported mental health and psychological concerns.

At the same time less than 3% of those who did not report debt or financial stress said they are suffering from psychological problems.

Professor Richard Disney, who carried out the study with Dr Sarah Bridges, said loans such as mortgages are not associated with stress unless payments are overdue.

But money owed to relatives, friends and money-lenders was likely to cause stress whether payments were overdue or not.

He said: "The credit crunch has undoubtedly increased the risk of debt problems, as figures on mortgage arrears and repossessions show.

"In such circumstances it's no surprise that the incidence of mental health problems and psychological stress has also increased.

"We have figures that show more and more people have been seeking advice from counselling agencies and from friends and relatives."

A recent report by mental health charity Mind has also shown the risk of unemployment and hardship has led to a sharp rise in depressive illness.

The study is published in the current edition of the Journal of Health Economics.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Nottingham School of Economics

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Depression is quite serious disease that affects a person mind, body and his thinking capacity. It is mental disorder that disables you from outside world. You begin to get disassociated from life, begin feel tired and your problems get expounded day by day. Usually, when people experience depression, they use medication to reduce this syndrome. Some employ other alternative medical procedure or therapy to relax them. Others even make use of mediation, mindfulness and otheraerobic work out to reduce depression in their life" - Name and address supplied

"I would agree with everything that has been said here. I have had financial problems because I could not find any suitable work. This caused me to feel down and apprehensive and coloured my thinking and life generally. I have now found some work and I feel as if I have rejoined life again. The effects of debts are to pull the person down. I wanted to work, I also had to go onto benefits which was awful. I would never have
wanted to do this. Especially as I have had a thirty five year work history in a very responsible job. I have always paid the full national insurance stamp and paid taxes. I felt humiliated. I feel heartily sorry for anyone who has to bring up a family and rely on benefits. Your whole social network is in danger of disintegrating because you can't do the things which make you feel good. I never had any bad debts but the thought of not being able to pay bills was such that I felt very insecure. I don't think the politicians realise what misery is caused by lack of money" - Angela Gibbins, Berkshire

"The situation is self-perpetuating. Depression and stress associated with the financial strain which becomes increasingly difficult to get out off. To turn things around requires a great deal of effort and energy expenditure which is lacking when stress putting further drain on self-resources and if depression present" - Christina Milligan