Short-term household debts such as credit cards and overdue bills, could increase the risk of depression in some people, says a new study. The findings may lead to changes in lending practices and provide new insights for mental health practitioners.
"New debt contracts could be offered to vulnerable borrowers and the population sectors we identified could be targeted with help in building their financial capacity. The findings could also be used to help mental health practitioners better understand the impact of clients' borrowing habits on depression. " said Lawrence Berger of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The link between such short term debt and depression is particularly strong among unmarried people, people reaching retirement age and those who are less well educated.
The study was carried out on around 8,500 working-age adults. The data were collected from two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households, conducted six years apart and ending in 1994. Around 79% of respondents had some debt.
The future research should include an analysis of whether the effects can be reversed and reducing short-term debt can help alleviate symptoms of depression, suggested the researchers. The results are forthcoming in the Journal of Family and Economic Issues.