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Exploring Mind Body Connections


New research continues to explore the many ways physical and mental health are connected and to understand how these connections might lead to better treatments or even prevention.

New data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) looks at the connections between physical health conditions and major depression among adolescents. Researchers found worse overall health ratings among adolescents who had depression in the prior year compared to those who did not. They also found that rates of several specific medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes, bronchitis and pneumonia, were all higher among adolescents who had experienced depression in the past year.

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While this research did not point to a cause and effect, the authors note that understanding these links can help guide prevention, early identification, and treatment of these co-occurring conditions.

Another recent study looked at long-term mental health effects among people who had experienced chronic illness as children. Researchers at the University of Sussex and University College London reviewed more than 30 studies involving children who had chronic physical illness, including arthritis, asthma or cancer, chronic renal failure, congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, type 1 diabetes and epilepsy. They found that the children with chronic physical illness were more likely to have depression and anxiety as adults.

The authors suggest that knowing about this increased risk would allow providers to step in early with mental health prevention and intervention strategies for children with chronic physical illnesses and minimize potential long-term mental health problems.

Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at the role of psychological distress, anxiety and depression, as potential predictors of specific cancer mortality. They examined data from 16 studies involving more than 160,00 men and women who were initially cancer free and provided psychological distress information. They followed them over an average of nine and a half years. They found that higher levels of psychological distress were associated with an increased risk of death from certain cancers, including leukemia and cancers of the bowel, prostate, pancreas and esophagus.

A study looking at the use of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) among women with breast cancer found that MSBR led to both biological and psychological improvements. The researchers compared a study group who participated in an eight-week MBSR course with an instructor and weekly group sessions with an active control group and a group with no intervention. The MBSR group showed significant improvements in depression symptoms and in physical symptoms.

A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology looked at the links between psoriasis, depression and psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis is a lifelong skin disease usually causing red, itchy, and scaly patches of skin. About 8.5 percent of people with psoriasis also experience psoriatic arthritis, which involves inflammation around the joints. Researchers at the University of Calgary found that people with psoriasis who also developed depression were 37 percent more likely to develop psoriatic arthritis, compared to people with psoriasis without depression.



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