WASHINGTONùThe stress from deepening debt is becoming a major pain in the neck ù and the back and the head and the stomach ù for millions of Americans. When people are dealing with mountains of debt, they’re much more likely to report health problems, too

And not just little stuff; this means ulcers, severe depression, even heart attacks. Although most people appear to be managing their debts all right, perhaps 10 million to 16 million are “suffering terribly due to their debts, and their health is likely to be negatively impacted,” says Paul J. Lavrakas, a research psychologist and AP consultant who analyzed the results of the survey.

Those are people who reported high levels of debt stress and suffered from at least three stress-related illnesses, he says. That finding is supported by medical research that has linked chronic stress to a wide range of ailments. And the current tough economic times and rising costs of living seem to be leading to increasing debt stress according to an index tied to the APAOL survey.

Among the people reporting high debt stress in the new poll: ù27 percent had ulcers or digestive tract problems, compared with 8 percent of those with low levels of debt stress. ù44 percent had migraines or other headaches, compared with 15 percent. ù29 percent suffered severe anxiety, compared with 4 percent. ù23 percent had severe depression, compared with 4 percent.

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