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Does Mental Illness Cause Physical Illness, or Vice Versa?

Diving into a research study to find the correlation between mental and physical illness.

Written by Courtney Gillen

01 The article “The Link Between Mental Illness and Physical Illness” was published in OZY by Melissa Pandika on April 11, 2017.

02 Mental disorders can be a foundation for physical diseases and vice versa.

03 On average teens with depression or other mood disorders were more likely to suffer from arthritis and digestive orders later.

04 Those who had a heart disease had a heightened risk of suffering from anxiety disorders.

05 Healthcare should reflect a patient’s experience and not be based on solely mental or physical illness.

If you’ve ever suspected that any mental and physical illnesses that you have experienced are related, that could very well be the case. Many people wonder about the truth in constant interaction between mind and body and if mental illness cause physical illness, or vice versa.

A study conducted by PLOS ONE surveyed 6,500 teenagers in the U.S. and researchers found distinct patterns in the sequence in which they experience various ailments, meaning those who suffered from one had a higher likelihood of developing another. These findings led study investigator Gunther Meinlschmidt to rethink the medical community’s tendency to treat these illnesses separately.

Numerous studies have shown that certain mental and physical illnesses may occur together, but Meinlschmidt wanted to see if one illness leads to the other and when these associations begin. Meinlschmidt and his team analyzed data from the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement, which consisted of 6,438 U.S. teenagers ranging from 13-18 years old.

The data from this survey discovered that in some cases, mental disorders were a foundation for physical diseases and that, on average, teens with depression or other mood disorders are more likely to suffer from arthritis and digestive orders. Those with anxiety disorders are more likely to develop skin diseases and those who suffered from substance abuse tend to get seasonal allergies.

However, the data also showed that physical diseases could be a foundation to mental disorders. “Finding out epilepsy could lead to an eating disorder was astonishing since most studies report that eating disorders follow epilepsy,” said Meinlschmidt.

Mental and physical healthcare are separate worlds, but it’s important to realize that some of these correlations between your mental and physical illness aren’t by chance and it is highly likely that one may trigger the other.

To read the original article on OZY, head here.

Original Series

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