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Stress about debts mounting in tough economic times

Americans are under increasing stress about their debts due to rising prices and a sluggish economy.

The mounting pressure is leading to an increase in stress-related illness. Medical professionals are calling the phenomenon debt-stress syndrome.

Recently on the CBS program The Early Show, Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist with New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, offered suggestions on how to handle debt stress.

When you're constantly worrying and stressing over your debts, you put your body in a constant state of alarm, said Manevitz. It responds by releasing stress hormones, which increases your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing pace, muscle tension, and inflammation, and the dumping of fuel – glucose and fats into – the bloodstream.

This results in an increased risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and infections such as a cold. Stress can also exacerbate preexisting conditions, from chronic pain to cancer, by undermining the body's ability to repair or care for itself, he added.

Other related health problems include muscle tension, upper and lower back pain, ulcers, digestive tract problems, migraines, insomnia, tension headaches, and severe anxiety, Manevitz said.

Three things people need to do to manage debt stress:

  • Don’t deny it.
  • Be proactive.
  • Get help.


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