Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Balance

Font Size

The Debt-Stress Connection

Gas and food prices are sky-high, the stock market is down, and the housing market is in the doldrums. But can worrying about the health of your bank account really make you sick?
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Matthew Hoffman, MD

Graphic designer Joshua Lurie-Terrell of Sacramento, Calif., described himself as an easy-going person. That is, he did until the market started tanking and he and his wife lost half of their retirement savings.

"I never let stress run my life before. But ever since money got tight, I've found that I'm a prisoner to it," he says. He worries that if he fills up the gas tank, he won't be able to afford the movies on the weekend, or if he keeps paying for health insurance, he won't be able to get his wife the birthday present she wants. With a baby on the way, he has seriously considered taking a second job on the night shift.

Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

Meet the Most Organized (and Happiest) Woman We Know

By Jenny Allen Some women find happiness by taking off for exotic, far-flung places — think of Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, circling the globe. Gretchen Rubin, on the other hand, found it right at home. Rubin, a New York City lawyer turned writer, didn't want to roam; she had a husband she was crazy about, two young daughters, a lovely home, a close extended family, good friends, and a satisfying career. She had, in short, a grown-up life. Which she loved — but, she admits,...

Read the Meet the Most Organized (and Happiest) Woman We Know article > >

But then this past spring, the 37-year-old suffered a heart attack, even though he had no warning signs or risks. His doctors point to stress as a major contributing factor.

"I feel like I'm a completely different person than I was," he tells WebMD. "I would attribute more than 90% to worrying about my finances. I've tried to do everything that Suze Orman says to do, but we still have problems."

Lurie-Terrell is certainly not alone. Money is a leading source of stress for Americans, according to a 2007 survey by the American Psychological Association. In the survey, 73% of the respondents cited money as a significant source of stress in their lives. Today, more than three out of every four American families are in debt, according to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances.

An AP-AOL study reveals that debt-related stress is 14% higher in 2008 than in 2004. Those who report high levels of debt stress suffer from a range of stress-related illnesses including ulcers, migraines, back pain, anxiety, depression, and heart attacks.

With fuel and food prices on the rise and the economic crunch targeting more Americans, this is a critical time to examine these serious health concerns and stress management.

The debt-stress connection: Fighting the saber-tooth tiger

There's a general reaction to stress that's been a part of our genetic makeup from the time we were cavemen, says Jay Winner, MD. Winner is author of Take the Stress Out of Your Life. Back then, when a saber-tooth tiger appeared, your heart would race, your pupils would dilate, and your body would release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. That way, you'd be able to fight the saber-tooth tiger -- or run.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
mature woman with glass of water
Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
Take your medication
Hand appearing to hold the sun
Hungover man
Welcome mat and wellington boots
Woman worn out on couch
Happy and sad faces
Fingertip with string tied in a bow
laughing family