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Is debt-related stress affecting your health

25 November 2009

Is debt-related stress affecting your health

According to new research, adults in the UK are suffering from a phenomenon called 'Recession Strain Injury' as unmanageable financial problems lead to physical health problems.

Research by Experian's CreditExpert.co.uk and findings by chartered physiotherapist Sammy Margo reveal a correlation between the rise in stress-related injuries and the increase in stress caused by high levels of debt.

The survey found that 6.8 million UK adults believe they have an unmanageable level of debt and find themselves under "enormous financial pressure", while a further 9.7 million say they are at the limit of what debt they are able to cope with. Meanwhile, stress-related injuries have risen by 25% since last year.

The average level of money owed for households with some form of unsecured debt is now more than £21,000 (excluding mortgage) and consumer credit lending continues to increase, despite the growth rate falling to 0.5% by the end of September.

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Chris Tapp, director of debt charity Credit Action, said: "A lot of people have lost jobs, a lot of people are worried that they will lose their job and so even those people that don't have a financial problem right now are worried about what the future might hold for them."

Stress-related injuries caused by financial gloom could include shoulder and arm twinges, pins and needles or lower back-ache.

Margo, whose findings support the latest research, said: "A typical response to stress is that muscles tighten and go into spasm. With prolonged stress this worsens and, as a result, leads to aches and pains."

"We have seen more people suffering from stress-related issues during the downturn and concerns around the personal finances are frequently mentioned by clients as a source of worry and stress."

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A study by the Legal Services Research Centre this time last year found  that treatments for ill-health caused by the stress of debt problems costs the NHS millions of pounds every year. According to the research, domestic woes account for NHS costs of more than £2billion each year.

Recent research revealed the Citizen's Advice Bureau was dealing with 9,300 new debt-related problems each day to the end of September.

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