New insights on how depression and anxiety change the body

Posted Nov 29, 2016 by Tim Sandle
A new study suggests that depression and anxiety change the body in different ways, with depression affecting the stomach and anxiety affecting the skin. This highlights how mental problems and physical disorders are often interlinked.
Depression and anxiety, together with stress, affect a number of young people, often arising from peer group pressures and the ability to cope with the demands of school and college. Psychologists from University of Basel and Ruhr University Bochum, through a study of mental aliments of young people, have concluded that arthritis and digestive system problems are more common after depression; and skin diseases arise more often with those who have certain types of anxiety disorders.
These conclusions are based on an analysis of 6,483 teenagers, based in the U.S., who were aged between 13 and 18.
The scientists found a number of patterns of interest in addition to the general trends relating to stomach and skin conditions. First they noted that physical diseases are manifest most often occur in children and adolescents who have previously suffered from mental disorders.
The second finding of interest is that some mental disorders are expressed most often following particular physical diseases. For example, anxiety disorders were seen more common if a person had a history of heart disease. The third finding was of a strong association between epileptic disorders and subsequent eating disorders.
It is hoped the finding will contribute to further understanding the origins of physical diseases and mental disorders, together with ideas for the treatment of both.
Lead researcher Dr. Marion Tegethoff notes in a research brief: “For the first time, we have established that epilepsy is followed by an increased risk of eating disorders -- a phenomenon, that had previously been described only in single case reports. This suggests that approaches to epilepsy treatment could also have potential in the context of eating disorder.”
The research results have been reported to the journal PLOS One, in a paper called “Chronology of Onset of Mental Disorders and Physical Diseases in Mental-Physical Comorbidity - A National Representative Survey of Adolescents.”