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Data From American Teenagers Links Depression, Eating Disorders, Skin Problem, and Epilepsy

Nov 25, 2016 03:50 AM EST

Is your teenager plagued by numerous health problems -- say, eating disorders, bad skin, anxiety -- one after the other, and sometimes, even worse, all at the same time? This new study explains why.

A research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation has looked into the temporal pattern and relationship between physical diseases and mental disorders in children and young people. Recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, the study led by Dr. Marion Tegethoff in collaboration with Professor Gunther Meinlschmidt from the University of Basel's Faculty of Psychology, collected and analyzed data from 6,483 teenagers from the United States aged between 13 and 18.

"The researchers noted that some physical diseases tend to occur more frequently in children and adolescents if they have previously suffered from certain mental disorders. Likewise, certain mental disorders tend to occur more frequently after the onset of particular physical diseases," a press release by the University of Basel says.

The paper entitled, "Chronology of Onset of Mental Disorders and Physical Diseases in Mental-Physical Comorbidity - A National Representative Survey of Adolescents," pointed out that affective disorders, on the other hand, such as depression, were frequently followed by arthritis and diseases of the digestive system, while the same relationship existed between anxiety disorders and skin diseases. A person who has heart disease is more prone to anxiety disorders, Science Daily reports.

Tegethoff and Meinlschmidt also linked epileptic disorders and subsequent eating disorders. "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 disorders," says Marion Tegethoff, the study's lead author.

The results of the study establishes the fact that mental illnesses and physical disease closely connected and somehow causative of each other even at such a young age. From a healthcare perspective, it's an urgent call for refinement of the current treatment regimen we have.

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