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Debt trebles mental illness
Nicotine T European Journal of Public Health (2013) 23(1):108-113

Debt increases the risk of common mental disorders almost three-fold, according to interviews with 7461 adults in England during 2007.

Of the 8.5 per cent of interviewees who were in debt, 38.0 per cent had at least one common mental disorder compared to 13.9 per cent of those without debt (odds ratio [OR] 2.83). After adjusting for confounders, debt increased the risk of social and other phobias almost four fold (OR 3.83) and panic disorder more than three fold (OR 3.14). People in debt were also more than twice as likely to develop obsessive compulsive disorder (OR 2.27), depression (OR 2.36) or generalized anxiety (OR 2.51).

Alcohol, drug and gambling problems exacerbated the link between debt and mental health. People in debt who were not dependent on alcohol were 2.94 times more likely to develop a common mental disorder.

Alcohol dependence increased the risk to 7.09. People in debt who were not dependent on drugs were 2.60 times more likely to develop a common mental disorder: dependence increased the risk to 8.44. People in debt who did not and did have a gambling problem were 2.81 and 6.95 fold times more likely respectively to develop a common mental disorder.

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