Mental illness tied to higher rates of physical problems

Adults who had a mental illness in the past year have higher rates of certain physical illnesses, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The report says adults age 18 and older  who had any mental illness, serious mental illness, or major depressive episodes in the past year had increased rates of high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Adults experiencing major depressive episodes (periods of depression lasting two weeks or more in which there were significant problems with everyday aspects of life such as sleep, eating or feelings of self-worth) had higher rates of these physical illnesses than those without past-year major depressive episodes: high blood pressure (24 percent vs. 20 percent), asthma (17 percent vs. 11 percent), diabetes (9 percent vs. 7 percent), heart disease (7 percent vs. 5 percent), and stroke (3 percent vs. 1 percent).

People with mental illness also had higher rates of emergency-department use and hospitalization. Almost half of adults with a serious mental illness (48 percent) visited the emergency room as opposed to 30 percent of those without a mental illness.

Hospitalization rates were more than 20 percent for those with a serious mental illness in the past year and less than 12 percent for those without a serious mental illness.

“Behavioral health is essential to health. This is a key SAMHSA message and is underscored by this data,” SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde said in an agency news release.

“Promoting health and wellness for individuals, families and communities means treating behavioral health needs with the same commitment and vigor as any other physical health condition. Communities, families and individuals cannot achieve health without addressing behavioral health.”

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