Mental Illness Linked To Increased Chronic Physical Conditions

medical checkupA study compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that adults who have experienced mental illness in the previous year were more likely to suffer from certain physical illnesses than those who maintained good mental health. Conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes had increased rates of occurrence in individuals who experienced mental disorders or major depressive episodes in the past year.

Of those who reported any kind of mental illness, 21.9% had high blood pressure compared to 18.3% of persons who reported no mental health problems. Asthma also increased significantly from 10.6% (with good mental health) to 15.7% (with poor mental health).

Persons who experienced a major depressive episode (a period lasting at least two weeks where the individual consistently experiences severe issues with certain aspects of daily life such as sleep or self esteem) had significantly higher statistics when compared to those who had none. For example high blood pressure rates increased from 19.8% to 24.1%, asthma from 11.4% to 17% and stroke rates more than doubled from 1.1% to 2.5%. [showmyads]

There was also a notable increase in the number of individuals visiting emergency departments and those being hospitalised. 47.6% of persons who had experienced mental illness had visited an emergency department, compared to 30.5% of those who had no adverse mental issues. Hospitalisation rates rose from 11.6% to 20.4% with increasing reports of poor mental health.

The SAMHSA press release states:

“Behavioural Health is essential to health. This is a key SAMHSA message and is underscored by this data,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “Promoting health and wellness for individuals, families and communities means treating behavioural health needs with the same commitment and vigour as any other physical health condition. Communities, families, and individuals cannot achieve health without addressing behavioural health.”

Over the last few years, SAMSHA has funded a program aimed at improving the physical health of those suffering from mental illness or substance abuse.  To date, the Primary and Behavioural Health Care Integration program (PBHCI), has already helped over 17,500 people. In addition, 64 community behavioural health providers have received financial assistance through the initiative.


Stuart writes for a number of health blogs and produces content on behalf of Health-On-Line


 Substance Abuse and Medical Health Services Administration. Retrieved on April 17, 2012 from

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