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Mental Disorders and Chronic Conditions

Link to onset of 10 physical illnesses evaluated

Mental disorders are linked to a greater risk of onset of various chronic physical conditions, according to 18 face-to-face, cross-sectional household surveys of 47,609 community-dwelling adults conducted in 17 countries.

Investigators retrospectively evaluated the lifetime prevalence and age at onset of mental disorders as identified by DSM. They also looked at history of 10 chronic conditions via self-report of physician’s diagnosis and year of onset or diagnosis.

Among the results:

• Most associations between 16 mental disorders and eventual chronic condition onset were statistically significant (odds ratios ranged from 1.2 to 3.6)

• The link weakened after adjusting for mental disorder comorbidity. Still, it remained significant for mood, anxiety, substance use, and impulse control disorders.

• The more mental disorders experienced over time, the greater the likelihood of onset or diagnosis of all 10 types of chronic conditions.

The authors concluded that interventions to prevent chronic conditions should be integrated into mental health treatment, and they should start earlier in the disease course.

Citation: Scott K, Lim C, Al-Hamzawi, et al. Association of mental disorders with subsequent chronic physical conditions: World mental health surveys from 17 countries. [Published online ahead of print December 23, 2015]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.2688.