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Debt Linked to Mental Health Problems

A new study reveals that debt could be bad for your brain.

Are your pockets feeling a little light these days? Turns out that drowning in student loans and credit card bills could actually be a mental health hazard. According to a new study from the University of Southampton in the U.K., people who are in debt are three times more likely to have a mental health issue than those who don't owe.

The researchers carried out a review of previous research that examined the relationship between health issues and unsecured debt. The analysis, published online in Clinical Psychology Review, involved almost 34,000 participants, and the results were pretty staggering.

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This research shows a strong relationship between debt and mental health,” says Thomas Richardson, a clinical psychologist at the University of Southampton and lead author of the study. “However, it is hard to say which causes which at this stage. It might be that debt leads to worse mental health due to the stress it causes. It may also be that those with mental health problems are more prone to debt because of other factors, such as erratic employment.”

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Either way, you’ve got to get out of debt. Among study participants with no known mental health problems, less than 9% were in debt, compared to more than a quarter of participants who were in debt and had a mental health problem.

“Debt advisors should consider asking about mental health when speaking to members of the public,” notes Richardson. “Similarly, mental health professionals should ensure they ask about whether their patients are in debt.”

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