In Brief: The psychological cost of foreclosure

In Brief

The psychological cost of foreclosure

Published: November, 2009

Foreclosures are on the rise across the United States (and in other countries), as the economic downturn places financial pressure on homeowners. A study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has found that these homeowners may be experiencing a significant psychological toll as well.

The researchers recruited 250 homeowners in Philadelphia who were undergoing foreclosure. Almost half reported symptoms of depression, and 37% met the criteria for major depression in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). This was a significantly greater percentage than reported in previous research in a similar population, which found that roughly 13% of people living in poverty met DSM-IV criteria for major depression. The study also found that people undergoing foreclosure were more likely to be uninsured, to skip meals, and to skip filling medical prescriptions — all of which could adversely affect health.

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