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During one of our posts earlier this month we wrote about how certain forms of cancer lead to a higher risk of bankruptcy. Today, we write about a new phenomenon with reverse causation. Instead of disease leading to financial hardship, a new study also shows that financial hardship can harm a person’s health. A new study shows the stress of bankruptcy and foreclosure proceedings can harm your physical and psychological health.

Stress related to financial strain and foreclosure can catch up with you by negatively affecting your physical and psychological health. A recent study analyzed the financial positions of 2,500 Americans and their physical and psychological health. The time period the study reviewed was from 2006 to 2008. People who reported that they had fallen behind on their house payments also reported more symptoms of depression, more food insecurity and were more likely to report that they were not taking prescription medicines as prescribed.

When broken down by percentage, over 20 percent of people who reported being behind on their mortgage payment reported symptoms of depression in comparison to only 3 percent of on-time borrowers. Around 32 percent of delinquent homeowners reported stretching their prescription medications in comparison to only 5 percent of non-delinquent homeowners. Finally, almost 30 percent of homeowners who were behind on their home payments reported food insecurity whereas only 4 percent of non-delinquent homeowners reported food insecurity.

Commenting on the study, an assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine said, “Depression, not taking medications and not spending enough money on nutritious food can exacerbate conditions.” The number of people whose health is suffering because of financial stress is probably greater today than when the survey was conducted.

Two years ago around 2.2 percent of all homes in the United States were in some form of delinquency. People age 50 and older represent one-quarter of defaults and foreclosures.

Source: USA Today, “Study: Foreclosure crisis threatening Americans’ health,” Jennifer Goodwin, Oct. 21, 2011