The majority of the developments in science and technology are based off an idea from the Enlightenment period in the 17th century. Rene Descartes – the philosopher from the rebirth era – had ruled that the mind and the body are two separate entities.
Where most of the scientists followed this rule previously, the modern age has cited it as false. For example, the book ‘Descartes Error’ by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio shows the correlations between the different functions of the body and human emotions and mental health.
In fact, you may have noticed yourself that your physical health tends to deteriorate when you are under a lot of stress. Getting a tension-induced fever or diarrhea is actually pretty common in the adult population today.
There are studies that even link the mental health with the working of gut bacteria. In addition, disorders and negative emotions also have the ability to lead to certain heart-related conditions such as heart attacks.
Furthermore, a new study also further proves the strong connection between the mind and the body. The recent research was conducted by Aoife O’Donovan, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, and her colleague Andrea Niles, Ph.D.
The main focus of the study was to see the effects of depression and anxiety on the physical health. Ther findings are in the Health Psychology which is the journal of the American Psychological Association.
How Was the Research Conducted?
The researchers initiated the study by looking at the data of over 15,418 people. All of these were senior citizens, retired and over the age of 60. This data was originally from a governmental study to examine the symptoms of anxiety and depression in the participants.
These participants were asked questions regarding their history of health, smoking habits, diet, lifestyle, and the current health conditions they are facing. Their differences in weight taken during hospital visited were also noted.
It was found that around 16 percent of the participants had severe depression and anxiety. 14 percent of them were smokers and a total of 31 percent struggled with obesity.
However, the ones with high levels of anxiety and depression were at a higher risk of many other health conditions.
For instance, they had 64 percent higher chances of having a stroke, 87 percent more prone to arthritis, 65 percent higher risk of having heart-related conditions, and 50 percent bigger chances of having hypertension in comparison with other participants.
What Is the Conclusion?
The researchers only found one health condition that was not affected by the mental health of a person – cancer. Though there are other studies that may have hinted this before, the link between cancerous growths and mental health is a common myth.
In addition, the researchers state “To our knowledge, this is the first study that directly compared anxiety and depression to obesity and smoking as prospective risk factors for disease onset in long-term studies”
Conclusively, they also warn about the long-term effects of ignoring mental health conditions, specifically anxiety and depression, both of which are prevalent across the globe.
They add that symptoms of mental health problems should be given as much importance as other factors such as family history, diet, and smoking. This will not only lead to better treatment but preventing further deterioration of the mind which increases the risk for more diseases.