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Many families can attest to the negative impact ongoing worry about their financial situation can have, not only on parents’ emotional health, but also their physical health.
Roughly 10-16 million people suffering terribly due to their debts, according to Research Psychologist Paul Lavrakas. (5) It’s important that we recognize the mental and physical symptoms of debt stress on ourselves and on our kids, and make the lifestyle changes necessary.
Definition and Symptoms of Debt Stress
Debt stress (also known as economic stress) can be the product of:
(a) the inability to pay bills
(b) the uncertainty of income sources, due to job loss, divorce, retirement, or disability
(c) the instability of employment
(d) the inadequacy of earnings to meet the family’s needs and desires (2)
Symptoms of debt stress can include:
• Worry, nervousness, tension, anxiety, pressure
• Insomnia and other sleep disorders
• High blood pressure
• Stomach, abdominal or digestive issues including ulcers, appetite disorders and associated weight gain or loss
• Fatigue, lack of energy
• Increased drug, alcohol or cigarette use
• Sicknesses or general feeling of being unwell
Facts about Debt Stress
The Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances estimates that more than three out of every four American families are in debt (1), while a 2008 Associated Press-AOL poll reported that those people who reported high debt stress suffered “from a range of stress-related illnesses including ulcers, migraines, back pain, anxiety, depression, and heart attacks.” (1)
The ethnic minority groups and female-headed household are most hard hit by debt stress.
Ethnic minority groups have lower income earnings and greater rates of poverty when compared to white families. Female-headed households which are most prevalent among blacks followed by Hispanics, whites and Asians, experience on average lower incomes and higher rates of poverty.