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Home loan making you ill?

india Updated: Aug 03, 2008 01:08 IST
Manoj Sharma

The spike in interest rates on home loans — and the resulting higher equated monthly installments (EMIs) — is playing havoc with the mental health of urban Indians, who are lining up outside psychiatrists’ clinics.

<b1>Dr Deepak Raheja, consultant psychiatrist at Paras Hospital, Gurgaon, recently counselled a man who had “developed suicidal tendencies because of the rising pressure of EMIs”. Over the last few days, over a dozen people sought his help for depression caused by the financial burden.

This was around the time that Delhi clinical psychologist Aroona Broota came across a 25-year-old assistant manager with a multinational bank attempting suicide for the same reason.

Dr Sameer Malhotra, head, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Fortis Hospital, Noida, said that over the past few days, 20 people had approached him because they were finding it difficult to cope with the financial stress caused by spiralling EMIs. “They suffer from anxiety, sleep disorders and severe clinical depression,” said Malhotra.

It’s the same story at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore.

Dr SK Chaturvedi, of the institute’s psychiatry department, said: “In the past week, we had three patients suffering from severe depression. They bought homes at lower interest rates and did not expect such hikes.”

It’s not just the middle-class that is feeling the pinch; psychiatrists said even those with incomes of Rs 25 lakh per annum were rushing to them for help. “These people went overboard in taking loans, investing in second and third properties, miscalculating their ability to pay back. This is taking a toll on their mental health,” said Raheja.

Suicide prevention helplines are being flooded with calls from people in a monetary mess. “There has been a 20 per cent rise over the last year in the number of calls from people suffering from financial stress. Most of these people are on the brink,” said Johnson Thomas, director of Aasra, a Mumbai suicide-prevention NGO.