Mental disorders significantly increase the risk of physical illness

This is a study looking at the effect that psychiatric co-morbidity has on the subsequent development of physical illness, published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2016. [1]

Eighteen face-to-face, cross-sectional household surveys of adults were conducted in 17 countries (47 609 individuals; 2 032 942 person-years) from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2011.

Most associations between 16 identified mental disorders and subsequent onset or diagnosis of 10 physical conditions were statistically significant, with odds ratios (ORs) ranging from 1.2 to 3.6 After adjustment for mental disorder comorbidity, mood, anxiety, substance use, and impulse control disorders remained significantly associated with onset of between 7 and all 10 of the physical conditions (ORs from 1.2  to 2.0). An increasing number of mental disorders experienced over the life course was significantly associated with increasing odds of onset or diagnosis of all 10 types of physical conditions, The authors conclude that that mental disorders of all kinds are associated with an increased risk of a wide range of chronic physical conditions. Interventions aimed at the prevention of chronic physical diseases should be integrated into the treatment of all mental disorders in primary and secondary care from early in the disorder course.

1            Scott KM, Lim C, Al-Hamzawi A, et al. Association of mental disorders with subsequent chronic physical conditions: World mental health surveys from 17 countries. JAMA Psychiatry 2016;73:150–8. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.2688