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Home Foreclosures Linked to Major Depression

The news of home foreclosures has been occupying much of the airwaves as individuals throughout the country have either lost jobs or found they really couldn’t afford the house they wanted so badly. While this has a negative financial impact, it also has shown to affect their mental health.

Science Daily recently issued a release citing a study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine which found nearly half of people studied while enduring foreclosure reported depressive symptoms. Another 37 percent met the screening criteria for major depression.

“The foreclosure crisis is also a health crisis,” said lead author Craig E. Pollack, MD, MHS, who conducted the research while working as an internist and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at Penn. “We need to do more to ensure that if people lose their homes, they don’t also lose their health.”

In this study, researchers determined that compared to a sample of residents in the general public, those in foreclosure were more likely to be uninsured even though similar health problems were seen among both the insured and uninsured.

Nearly 60 percent of participants reported they had skipped or delayed meals because they couldn’t afford food. The study also found people in foreclosure procedures were more likely to have forgone filling a prescription because of an expense during the preceding year.

For nine percent of study participants, a medial condition in the family was the primary reason for the home foreclosure. More than 25 percent of those surveyed reported significant unpaid medical bills. Financial hardships can lead homeowners to cut back on health care spending. When in foreclosure, especially, these individuals put their health at great risk.

“When people purchase homes, they are buying a piece of the American Dream,” said co-author Julia Lynch, PhD, the Janice and Julian Bers Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences in Penn’s department of political science. “Losing a home can be especially devastating because it means the loss of this dream. When this happens, there is reason to worry not only about the health of the home owner but also that of family members and the broader community they live in.”

There is still hope.

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