Short-Term Debt Linked to Depression

Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Pharmacy students should be careful to pay off short-term debt to avoid experiencing depressive symptoms, according to new research.

Pharmacy students should be careful to pay off short-term debt to avoid experiencing depressive symptoms, according to new research.

A new study published in The Journal of Family and Economic Issues suggests an association between individuals tackling debt related to overdue bills and having depression.

Researchers found this to be especially true for unmarried individuals, those aged 51 to 64 years, and those with a high school education or less. However, those who were most likely to have debt were well-educated young males with highly educated parents, greater income and assets, and good health.

According to the data, which was gathered from the National Survey of Families and Households from 1987 to 1989 and 1992 to 1994, almost 80% of individuals had some debt, and the average debt load was $42,000. The most common form of debt was long-term, as opposed to short- or mid-term debt.

While short-term debt was associated with having depressive symptoms, the same could not be said for mid- or long-term debt.

“The link between short-term debt and depressive symptoms persisted with alternative estimation strategies, including defining debt in absolute and relative terms,” the researchers stated.

The researchers found short-term debt had adverse effects on psychological wellbeing, but the reverse was not true, as depression did not seem to cause debt. The study authors called for more research on whether lowering debt could reduce depressive symptoms.

“The findings could also be used to help mental health practitioners better understand the impact of clients’ borrowing habits on depression,” said lead study author Lawrence Berger, MSW, PhD of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in a press release.