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Foreclosure-Related Stress, Suicide on the Rise?

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 (AP)

Anxiety disorders, depression, and alcoholism – these are just a few of the emotional problems creeping up in the wake of the foreclosure crisis sweeping the country.

If you need proof of the toll it’s taking on Americans – look no further than the tragic story of Carlene Balderrama.

The 53-year old mother and wife from Taunton, Mass., fatally shot herself Tuesday just hours before her mortgage company was scheduled to auction her house off.

Police said she faxed a letter to the company saying that by the time they foreclosed on her house that day, she would be dead. Ironically, her body was still inside the house when interested buyers showed up at the auction around 5 p.m., according to Taunton police chief Raymond O'Berg.

“People’s homes are tremendously important to them emotionally,” said. Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and FOX News contributor. “It’s an American and human fact that we project our self image through the houses that we buy and redesign and where our children grow up — and to some measure it is our face to the community and to ourselves.”

Ablow, who has a private practice in Boston, said you can’t overestimate how stressful it is to lose one’s home. Ablow said he has had an increased number of patients in his practice that are having difficulty dealing with financial stress.

“And I hear it from other clinicians helping these people cope,” he said. “These become marital issues because they cause a lot of angst between partners in a marriage, each of whom may blame the other for what has happened."

Balderrama’s husband John said he had no clue about the financial crisis that had been tearing his wife apart.

“There can be feelings of desperation, hopelessness and shame,” Ablow told FOXNews.com. “Financial chaos in one's life brings up very deep questions related to much earlier life stresses and experiences. For example, financial turmoil in your family of origin or questions about whether you measured up personally or economically.”

While in this particular case, Balderrama is left struggling for answers — Ablow said it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many warnings signs to look out for when someone you love is struggling.

Warning signs:

— When someone seems to be drawing a line in the sand psychologically and saying that they cannot envision the future

— Signs consistent of major depression including:

— Episodes of tearfulness

— Low self-esteem,

— Inability to concentrate

— Lack of appetite

— Inability to sleep or sleeping too much and any expression of suicidal thinking

“There’s a terrible myth in our culture that people who talk about hurting themselves don’t do it, when in fact most people who hurt themselves have spoken about their intentions,” Ablow said.

If you believe someone is in trouble – the best thing you can do is call 911, he said.

“If someone you love says that he or she is thinking of ending his or her life, it is not an overreaction to call 911 and have that person evaluated in an emergency room,” Alblow said. “When it is not an emergency, the best line of defense in these cases is to get a mental professional involved early on.”

There is also help online. The American Psychological Association is currently offering tips on how to manage stress during these tough financial times.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.