Multiple chronic health problems can increase mental health problems

A recent study by Northwestern Medicine sheds light on a growing concern in healthcare: multimorbidity, which means having more than one long-term health condition.

As the global population ages, understanding the effects of multiple chronic conditions is becoming increasingly important.

The study’s key finding is that people with multiple chronic diseases often experience high levels of anxiety and depression, as well as a decline in physical function.

One particularly notable aspect of the study is the difference in health-related quality of life between white participants and those from non-white backgrounds.

Non-white individuals reported a more significant decrease in quality of life as the number of chronic health conditions increased.

Eileen Graham, the study’s lead author, emphasizes the complexity of this issue. As people age, they often accumulate various health conditions, like hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and arthritis.

These conditions, while individually manageable, can collectively lead to a decline in quality of life due to their cumulative impact.

Graham points out the challenges of managing multiple conditions, which can include coordinating with several doctors, dealing with contradictory medications, and handling potential complications.

These challenges can contribute to anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients, especially when coupled with the physical limitations these conditions often bring.

The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, also highlights a concerning racial disparity.

Non-white individuals tend to experience a more pronounced decline in quality of life due to multimorbidity, underscoring the need for the healthcare system to provide better support for people from underrepresented communities.

Interestingly, the study notes variations in the levels of depression associated with different chronic diseases.

Conditions like circulatory, musculoskeletal, metabolic, and respiratory diseases were linked to higher depression rates. However, this was not the case for digestive diseases, kidney or ear diseases, cataracts, or cancer.

Notably, individuals with respiratory diseases reported high initial depression levels, which tended to improve over time.

If you care about mental health, please read studies about 6 foods you can eat to improve mental health, and B vitamins could help prevent depression and anxiety.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about how dairy foods may influence depression risk, and results showing Omega-3 fats may help reduce depression.

The research findings can be found in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

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