While mental and physical health have traditionally been treated by separate doctors, research and clinical experiences are increasingly providing support for viewing symptoms in light of total health. Many physical and mental health factors are being found to be related, even if they’re not always a cause-and-effect relationship.
As a result, clinicians in both areas are finding that administering screenings during evaluations with patients can help address symptoms that may fall outside their normal practice. A physician treating a teen, for example, may screen for eating disorder symptoms if the patient seems to exhibit unusual weight loss patterns.
The Connection Between Physical And Mental Health
Treating the patient in light of both physical and mental health issues can make treatment complicated, but it also may result in better outcomes. In addition, recognizing the relationship and seeking to understand the association between physical and mental health problems can help physicians better predict which patients may be at risk.
A recent study by researchers at the University of New York highlights the nuanced nature of the connection between physical and mental health. While previous research has suggested there is a connection between childhood asthma and later mental health issues, the study shows that more information is needed to accurately predict the likelihood of a mental disorder developing later.
The findings for the study appear in a recent issue of the journal Psychological Medicine.
Many children with asthma outgrow the symptoms by the time they reach their teen years. In some cases, however, the child transitions into adolescence with their asthma symptoms still present.
Asthmatic Teens More Likely To Have Mental Disorder Symptoms?
The researchers found that asthmatic children that become asthmatic teens are more likely to exhibit mental disorder symptoms when compared with children who had never had an asthma diagnosis. In addition, children that outgrow their asthma by the time they reach adolescence tend to also outgrow the associated risk with psychological problems.
The researchers, led by Renee D. Goodwin of the Department of Psychology at Queens College of the City University of New York, assessed the symptoms of asthma in children at the age of five. When a child had symptoms that did not subside by the time they reached the age of 17, they were at an increased risk of affective issues, oppositional defiant behavior, anxiety and conduct issues.
Among the children who exhibited chronic mild cases of asthma there was no increased likelihood of developing a psychological disorder.
In children that outgrew their asthma by the time they reached their teens there was an increased likelihood of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when compared with children who had never had a diagnosis of asthma.
Goodwin and colleagues were unable to explain the connection between mild asthma and ADHD. However, the finding highlights an area that could be clarified through additional research.
Previous research had led to the routine screening of children with asthma to determine whether there were signs of developing mental disorders. However, Goodwin says that her findings indicate that screening all children with asthma may be unnecessary.
Instead, children with asthma that remains into adolescence may require regular screening in order to watch for symptoms of anxiety and other mental disorders. Screenings can be incorporated into clinical settings, as well as introduced in schools and communities, which could result in significant savings from a public health standpoint.
Administering screenings to all children diagnosed with asthma could be costly, but the findings indicate that such a broad sweep of screenings is unnecessary. By contrast, the findings indicate that careful monitoring of symptoms may substantially reduce the number of teens that require additional screening.
If You Think Your Child Suffers From A Mental Illness, Call Us Today, We Are Here To Help!