Linking Mental Illness To Chronic Physical Illness Risk

Results from a study by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) demonstrated that individuals aged 18 and older who had any mental illness, major depressive episodes or serious mental illness in the past year, are more likely to have a strke or develop diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, cardiovascular disease, than those who have not had any mental illness.

Comparing adults who have not experienced any mental illness in the past year, 18.3% had high blood pressure in the last year,compared to 21.9% of those who experienced mental illness. In addition, 10.6% of adults without mental illness in the past year also had asthma, compared to 15.7% of adults who had any mental illness.

The researchers also found that individuals who suffered from a serious mental illness (i.e. a mental illness resulting in severe functional impairment substantially interfering with one or more major life activities) in the past year were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, and stroke than adults without serious mental illnesses.

Individuals who had major depressive episodes lasting 2+ weeks were more likely (24.1%) to develop high blood pressure than adults without experiencing major depressive episodes in the past year (19.8%), 8.9% to develop diabetes vs. 7.1%, 6.5% to develop cardiovascular disease vs. 4.6%, 17.0% asthma vs. 11.4%, and 2.5% stoke vs. 1.1%.

The study also found that individual who experienced serious mental illness in the past year were more likely to to use emergency departments (47.6%) than adults without serious mental illness (30.5%). In addition, adults who experienced serious mental illness were more likely to have been hospitalized (20.4%) than those without serious mental illness (11.6%).

The SAMHSA report is an annual nationally representative survey of the U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 12 or older.

SAMHSA study