Working with a financial advisor helps reduce stress-related illnesses, according to a recent study of middle-class military families performed by First Command Financial Services Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas RIA that caters to military clients.

Although the study, called the First Command Financial Behaviors Index, did not extrapolate these results to the general public, Mary Lester, a spokeswoman for the firm, says that a definite trend was found among families in the armed forces.

The study showed that middle-class military families with incomes of at least $50,000 who work with a financial planner are less likely to experience a variety of physical and psychological problems.

Among families that do not work with a financial advisor, 28% reported having difficulty falling asleep, while only 18% of those who worked with a planner did. Similar differences were found when subjects were asked if they experienced general stress, difficulty staying asleep, changes in weight or irritability.

The study shows that those working with financial planners feel less financially vulnerable; 52% of those working with an advisor felt financially secure, while only 28% of those without one did. Likewise, 46% of those with an advisor felt confident in their ability to retire, while only 20% of those without one felt secure.

"Economic uncertainty remains a critical issue for many service members and their families," says Scott Spiker, the CEO of First Command Financial Services. "While everyone is impacted differently by financial concerns, we know that money worries can have a negative effect on our physical well-being. These findings reveal that working with a financial planner can help to lessen some of the health issues commonly associated with financial stress."

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index is a monthly survey that assesses the financial attitudes and behaviors of clients at First Command and its subsidiaries (First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning). First Command, which started in 1958, has more than 285,000 client families and $15.7 billion in managed accounts and brokered mutual funds, according to its Web site.

--Karen DeMasters