How Credit Card Debt Affects Your Health

by John Stevenson on December 5, 2011

Debt problems can affect your health in many ways, leading to depression, explosive emotions, and heart attacks. Negative bank statements, visions of collectors, foreclosures, impending lawsuits, and repossessions can spook anyone out of sleep.

In fact, young persons who have credit card balances of more than $1,000 use more prescription medications for depression, smoke more, and drink more. Students with credit card debt have lower grades than those who do not have credit card debt. Debt affects retention rates, study habits, and students’ overall academic performance. In some cases, debt has been associated with suicide (Securities Division).

According to the AP-AOL Survey, persons with high debt stress face a higher risk of developing a number of medical conditions. For example, 27 percent of interviewed had digestive tract problems and ulcers, compared with only 8 percent of those with low debt stress. 29 percent complained from severe anxiety, while only 4 percent of persons with low levels of stress reported this problem. 44 percent have headaches and migraines, compared with only 15 percent. Severe depression was reported by 23 percent, while 4 percent of persons with low debt stress suffered from depression. Moreover, 6 percent of interviewed reported having heart attacks, which is double the rate of persons with low levels of debt-related stress. Research studies suggest that the reported symptoms are associated with chronic stress. It provokes a flight-or-fight response, and the body releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This reaction makes it possible to react quickly in emergencies. However, if the person stays in high gear for a long time, the chemical released can affect a number of systems. This leads to problems with digestion, memory, and mood, a rise in heart rate and blood pressure, affecting the immune system as well (Mental Health). Abdominal complaints vary, ranging from ulcers requiring surgery to sour tummies that need a daily intake of antacids.

Other health problems have been linked to credit card debt as well. Some people cope with problems, including financial issues, by overeating. Others cannot hold food or eat because they are anxious. This can make them weak and frail to the point of getting sick. Regarding substance abuse, financial problems do not lead to addiction per se. However, those who turn to alcohol and drugs in order to deal with stress are at risk of going down this path. Truly, relying on substances to numb you from the reality of your financial situation may look like a way to feel less stress. It does not solve anything, however, and the consequences can be devastating. 

It should be noted that everyone has different physiology. Debt-related stress can lead to overactive sweat glands, a weakened immune system, hair loss, or other problems. The ways debt may affect you vary considerably. If you have piled credit card or other debt, you should be aware of pains and aches that occur, taking promptly action to contend with health issues in a healthy way (Credit Cards).

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