Depression and anxiety cause stomach and skin issues, respectively

Mind and body problems often go hand in hand, a new study has found. Arthritis and stomach issues are more common in people who have suffered from depression, while anxiety often causes skin problems. It’s the first time patterns like this have been observed in young people.

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Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are often misunderstood and carry with them a stigma, despite a growing body of scientific evidence which links the two to severe health concerns,

We’ve known for quite a while that clinical depression is extremely dangerous, and it’s not just something you can “shake off.” The United Kingdom National Health Service page for depression reads:

Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms. Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together”.

Although causality relationships have not yet been established, it is well known that depression is often accompanied by physical symptoms. The same page continues:

“There can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains.”

Problems such as anxiety are gaining more and more recognition in medical facilities due to the damage they do both directly and indirectly. Anxiety can also have a number of physical side effects, including dizziness, tiredness, palpitations, stomach aches, headaches and insomnia. There can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains. All in all, there is more and more evidence that anxiety messes up your body, but ‘how’ and ‘how much’ are still questions to be answered.

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Now, a new study led by PD Dr. Marion Tegethoff in collaboration with Professor Gunther Meinlschmidt from the University of Basel’s Faculty of Psychology, adds even more reason for concern. After studying 6,483 teenagers from the US aged between 13 and 18, they found that some physical conditions are more likely to affect people who have suffered from mental issues as teenagers.

Another interesting correlation was found between epilepsy and eating disorders.

“For the first time, we have established that epilepsy is followed by an increased risk of eating disorders — a phenomenon, that had previously been described only in single case reports. This suggests that approaches to epilepsy treatment could also have potential in the context of eating disorders,” explains Marion Tegethoff, the study’s lead author.

The processes through which the physical and mental disorders are linked are not discussed, and this may be a case of “correlation not causation.” However, there is growing evidence that whatever is causing problems in the brain also has echoes elsewhere inside the body. There is a need for further monitoring such cases and, perhaps, when treatment for the mental disorder is administered, additional preventive treatment should also be considered.

Journal Reference: Marion Tegethoff, Esther Stalujanis, Angelo Belardi, Gunther Meinlschmidt. Chronology of Onset of Mental Disorders and Physical Diseases in Mental-Physical Comorbidity – A National Representative Survey of Adolescents. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (10): e0165196 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165196


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