Millions ‘are falling ill with strain of debts’

The pressure of debt can lead to 'devastating' medical conditions. Picture: Getty
The pressure of debt can lead to 'devastating' medical conditions. Picture: Getty
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Nearly half of adults claim they have suffered from health conditions caused by having money problems as an increasing number of people struggle to cope with their debts.

One in three people says that since 2009 - when the financial crisis began to bite and more people began to experience money problems - personal finance issues have caused them to suffer from stress.

Some people literally can’t afford to eat at all

Keith Dryburgh

Meanwhile, 22 per cent claim it has contributed to them having depression, according to a report from the Fairbanking Foundation.

Nearly one in five people says money worries have caused them to suffer from insomnia and five per cent say it made them being physically sick.

Antony Elliott, chief executive of Fairbanking Foundation, said the organisation is working with a range of banks and credit organisations to help them improve the transparency of their products.

“The health of our finances and how we manage our money has a huge impact on our lives, and in some cases as our research shows, the effects of this can be devastating,” he said.

“The financial services industry is doing more to help customers who fall into financial difficulty, but our research suggests that people think it could do more.

Of those people who encountered financial difficulties over the past five years, only 14 per cent said that they thought their banks and creditors were supportive.”

The report also found that money worries have also caused millions of people to either lose their jobs or fall out with partners and friends.

Some six per cent of people say that since 2010 they have lost jobs as a result of having financial problems, while the same number claim they broke up with partners because of this.

Just under one in eight people said money problems resulted in them developing eating disorders, and seven per cent said they started to drink too much. One per cent claim it resulted in them taking drugs.

The survey comes just months after a report from debt charity StepChange found that in 2014 nearly 600,000 people contacted it for help, a rise of 56 per cent since 2012. Of those people, more than a third reported the stress had left them with chest pains, nervousness and shaking, and ringing in their ears.

Keith Dryburgh, social policy officer at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “Sadly these figures come as no surprise to anyone who has worked in a CAB. It stands to reason people who are struggling to make ends meet will be less able to stay healthy.

“Our advisers often report seeing cases where people literally can’t afford to eat at all, and have to cut back on regular meals. Families who are in fuel poverty will also be unable to heat their homes properly, and many people live in poor quality housing where dampness and dust can have a damaging effect on health.

“In addition the stress of being in poverty affects people’s mental health - and sometimes this impacts their physical health too. We have found in the past that 90 per cent of Scottish CAB clients who are in debt have reported poor mental health as a result.”