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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Debts Can Seriously Damage Your Health

by Max Renwick


 A recent report in The Daily Telegraph highlighted how anxious people can become when worrying about debts.  It also shows just how many of us are so concerned about debts that we end up having to go to the doctor.

The survey found that around seven per cent of people   equivalent to almost three million adults across the UK had problems with debt or disputed bills.  Of these, 21 per cent said they had suffered stress related ill health as a consequence. Among those whose debts caused ill health, 22 per cent saw their GP, costing the NHS an average of 125GBP per patient.

In all, the findings suggest that around 130,000 people nationwide have seen their GP about stress caused by debt, at a cost to the NHS of 15 to 20 million pounds. Source; The Daily Telegraph

3 million people in the UK with debt problems.
630,000 of us suffering from stress as a result.
138,600 of those ending up at the doctors.

An expert has suggested that these figures could be as much as twice as bad if the survey had included rent or mortgage arrears.

In America, other surveys come to similar conclusions.  You are twice as likely to have a heart attack if you are suffering from debt stress, three times as likely to suffer from migraines and headaches and six times as likely to suffer from severe depression.

Source; Associated Press and AOL survey

When the NHS notices that debts are causing stress related ill health, then there really is a problem.  But it isn't just the medical issue.  Doctors can help treat the health problem but they can't sort out the cause.

Debt doctor

If you're concerned about making repayments on credit cards, store cards, loans or mortgages, you should really take three vital steps as a priority.

1    Take a deep breath and make the decision to get help.
2    Write down a list of all your debts, your ordinary household bills and living costs.
3    Call a responsible debt management company for help, support and advice.

Once you have all your income, outgoings and debt information down on paper, a debt management adviser can start to help you.

There is nothing to be ashamed of.  In fact, like an illness, the sooner you see someone about it, the sooner, you'll start to feel well again.  If it helps, think of it as going to see a 'debt doctor'.  Clearly, if you feel that the burden of debt is causing you stress related ill health, you should also see a GP as soon as possible.

Controlling repayments; Debt Management Plan

A good debt adviser will be able to deal with all your creditors.  It's a complicated process but most people will end up paying down their debts at a rate they can afford.  A responsible debt management solution will leave you debt free in the long run and able to keep up with your ordinary living expenses in the meantime.

Most lenders will understand that it is better for them to get part of the debt back than nothing at all.  Their aim is the same as yours; to see the debt come down.  To help you do this, some lenders will agree not to go on adding interest charges or late payment fees.  Again, a responsible debt management service will be best placed to make this happen for you.

Finding a debt management adviser

Your adviser should not generally recommend an Individual Voluntary Arrangement or bankruptcy.  Their website should not 'hide' behind any organisation that pretends to be a free or impartial debt counselling service, a charity or a government body. 

Beware of debt management advisers who charge any fees up front. They should be clear about what they charge and what services they will provide.  They should operate a free phone number to keep costs down for you while they help sort out your debt problems.
The stress debt spiral

Part of the problem with the stress that is caused by debt is that it often makes matters worse; the stress affects many people so badly that they find it hard to tackle the debts.  The pressure can also lead to depression and a general inability to organise their paperwork.  When every morning's post just seems to bring another bill or reminder, many people start making poor money management decision.

The problem worsens and the bills mount up, which in turn creates even more of a problem with debt.  This turns into a downward spiral because, often, people use loans or credit cards to clear ordinary household bills or other debts.  This solves the immediate problem but creates a more expensive debt.

The spiral continues with things like consolidation loans, which may clear existing balances but mean that you begin to run up new debts on top of the old 'consolidated' debts; a much worse situation. 

Breaking the cycle

If you feel that any of these problems are familiar, then you should speak to a debt management adviser as soon as possible.  The first step on this path is to recognise that you really do need some expert support, advice and help with your debts.  Once you have admitted to yourself that debt advice would probably make your life easier, you absolutely have to act.

Follow those three steps.
1    Take a deep breath and make the decision to get help.
2    Write down a list of all your debts, your ordinary household bills and living costs.
3    Call a responsible debt management company for help, support and advice.

Debt advisers are there to help you.  All you need to do is call; they take care of the problems for you, leaving you free from the stress of debt.

About the Author:
Max Renwick is a Senior Debt Advisor with Debtaid - a debt management company. Debtaid is a family run company that prides itself in its honesty and transparency when helping people with debt. If you would like to know more or need help with your debts, please visit

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