Chronic Diseases May Be Tied to Mental Health Problems

Chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and asthma may increase risk for mental health issues

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The difficulties of chronic disease can affect many areas of life — perhaps even mental health, suggests a new study.

The study, which looked at a large survey of Californians in 2009, found that people with a chronic disease had increased odds of also having psychiatric distress.

Having multiple chronic diseases increased those odds even more, the researchers found.

According to the authors of the study, led by Gina M. Piane, DrPH, MPH, of National University in San Diego, chronic diseases and mental disorders in the US require national attention. Dr. Piane and team wanted to explore how these conditions might coexist.

To do so, they used data from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey on a total of 39,954 patients. The authors studied patients who reported either one or more than one chronic disease — including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and heart disease — and psychiatric distress or impairment.

Psychiatric distress was determined using a number of self-reported scales to measure feelings like nervousness, hopelessness, and worthlessness and whether these issues interfered with patients' daily lives.

Dr. Piane and colleagues found that a number of groups were more likely to report psychiatric distress and impairment, such as women, smokers, binge drinkers, obese patients and those with more chronic diseases.

Those who had one chronic disease were 1.5 times more likely to have psychological distress and impairment than those with no chronic diseases. These odds increased with every reported chronic disease — up to 4.68 times the risk for psychiatric distress and impairment for those with four chronic diseases.

Women were 1.39 times more likely than men to report psychiatric distress and impairment, the study authors found. Smokers were 1.95 times more likely to report these issues than nonsmokers.

This study relied on self-reported data and only involved patients in the state of California, the authors noted.

"Further research is needed to identify ways to integrate mental health and chronic disease prevention in primary care," Dr. Piane and colleagues wrote.

The study was published online Oct. 23 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventing Chronic Disease.

The authors disclosed no funding sources or conflicts of interest.


Review Date: 
October 23, 2014
Last Updated:
October 24, 2014