Foreclosures Harming Nation's Health: Study - NBC4 Washington

Foreclosures Harming Nation's Health: Study

Study links mortgage delinquency with depression



     Foreclosures Harming Nation's Health: Study
    Getty Images / Joe Raedle
    Study says higher rates of depression found among those delinquent on home loans.

    On Monday President Barack Obama will roll out a new plan to assist the millions of homeowners with distressed mortgages across the country.

    According to a University of Maryland researcher, if the plan is effective in assisting homeowners threatened by foreclosure, it may benefit the nation's mental health as well.

    The new study found high rates of depression for adults who are behind in their mortgage payments.

    ""This study has pinpointed an issue that until now has been somewhat under the radar," said Albert Reece, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, "but which threatens to become a major public health crisis if not addressed."

    The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, tracked adults over age 50.  Researchers looked at 2,474 subjects, measuring their psychological impairment, general health status, and access to health resources, like prescription medicine.

    According to the study, 22 percent of those who were delinquent on their mortgages showed depressive symptoms over a two-year period.  Among the study group that was not behind in their mortgage payments, only three percent showed depressive symptoms.

    The study also found that the group with delinquent mortgage payments was six times more likely to skip prescription medicine than the non-delinquent group

    Dr. Dawn Alley, the study's principal investigator, says that the trends seen in this study has gotten worse in recent years, as the mortgage crisis is compounded with long-term unemployment.

    "Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the number of Americans with depression has been increasing along with rising unemployment," Dr. Alley said.