CT Daily

Mental illness linked to chronic illnesss

Heather Rudow April 13, 2012

(Photo:Flickr/david__jones)

A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that adults ages 18 and older who had a mental illness in the past year had higher rates of certain chronic illnesses than those without mental illness. The research showed that adults who had any mental illness or major depressive episodes in the past year had increased rates of high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, heart disease and stroke:

“For example, 21.9 percent of adults experiencing any mental illness … in the past year had high blood pressure. In contrast, 18.3 percent of those not experiencing any mental illness had high blood pressure. Similarly, 15.7 percent of adults who had any mental illness in the past year also had asthma, while only 10.6 percent of those without mental illness had this condition. Adults who had a serious mental illness (i.e., a mental illness causing serious functional impairment substantially interfering with one or more major life activities) in the past year also evidenced higher rates of high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, heart disease and stroke than people who did not experience serious mental illnesses. Adults experiencing major depressive episodes (periods of depression lasting two weeks or more in which there were significant problems with everyday aspects of life such as sleep, eating, feelings of self-worth, etc.) had higher rates of the following physical illnesses than those without past-year major depressive episodes: high blood pressure (24.1 percent vs. 19.8 percent), asthma (17.0 percent vs. 11.4 percent), diabetes (8.9 percent vs. 7.1 percent), heart disease (6.5 percent vs. 4.6 percent), and stroke (2.5 percent vs. 1.1 percent). The report also shows significant differences in emergency department use and hospitalization rates in the past year between adults with past-year mental illness and those without. For example, 47.6 percent of adults with serious mental illness in the past year used emergency departments as opposed to only 30.5 percent of those without past-year serious mental illness. Adults with past-year serious mental illness were more likely to have been hospitalized than those without past-year serious mental illness (20.4 percent versus 11.6 percent respectively).”

A nationwide report about stress conducted by the American Psychological Association revealed that people suffering from chronic illness typically experience high amounts of stress in their daily lives.

Source: SAMHSA

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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