A research conducted by psychologists at the University of Basel in Switzerland and Ruhr University Bochum in Germany suggests that mental disorders, like depression and anxiety, are antecedent risk factors of certain physical diseases in early life. According to the study, depression in young people is often followed by arthritis and diseases of the digestive system, while skin diseases are common after anxiety disorders.
"Our results expand the relevance of mental disorders beyond mental to physical health care, and vice versa, supporting the concept of a more integrated mental-physical health care approach, and open new starting points for early disease prevention and better treatments, with relevance for various medical disciplines," the study said.
Physical Diseases Tend To Occur More Frequently In Children Who Previously Suffered Mental Disorders
The study group led by Marion Tegethoff in collaboration with Professor Gunther Meinlschmidt looked into the temporal pattern and relationship between physical diseases and mental disorders in children and young people. They analyzed data from a representative sample of 6,483 teenagers from the U.S. who age range between 13 and 18.
What the researchers found out was that some physical diseases tend to occur more frequently in children and teens if they have suffered from certain mental disorders previously. Also, some mental disorders tend to occur more frequently after the onset of particular physical diseases. Anxiety is common if a person had already suffered a heart disease.
Epileptic Disorders Were Associated With Eating Disorders
The researchers also noted that there was a close association was also established for the first time between epileptic disorders and subsequent eating disorders. This offers groundbreaking insights into the casual relationship between mental disorders and physical diseases.
"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," said Tegethoff.