A married couple: Mental disorders and Physical diseases in teenagers

By Alexander Pan 

Psychologists at the University of Basel and Ruhr University Bochum have examined the patterns of mental disorders in teenagers. They determined how physical diseases naturally follow from mental disorders. Commonly, depression in teenagers lead to arthritis and digestive system disorders. Similarly, anxiety in young people is usually followed by various skin diseases and epilepsy is usually followed by eating disorders. Researchers from the Swiss National Science Foundation examined the mental and physical health of a group of 6,500 teenagers between the ages 13-18. They determined that the development of a specific mental disorder often leads to the development of another disease and vice versa. For instance, teenagers who first developed anxiety later developed skin diseases and those who developed skin diseases first later obtained anxiety. This double dose of a physical disease and a mental disorder impedes the healthy development of a sound mental and physical state in adolescents. This causal relationship between a mental disorder and a physical disease can change the approach of treating both diseases. Researcher Marion Tegethoff points out, “this suggests that approaches to epilepsy treatment can have potential in the context of eating disorders.” Moreover, the identification of this hand-in-hand relationship changes the perspective of approaching the problem. Perhaps this will instigate novel approaches to treating a mental disorder and a physical disorder as a pair. 


Marion Tegethoff, Esther Stalujanis, Angelo Belardi, Gunther Meinlschmidt. Chronology of Onset of Mental Disorders and Physical Diseases in Mental-Physical Comorbidity - A National Representative Survey of Adolescents. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (10): e0165196 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165196

Universität Basel. "Depression in young people affects the stomach, anxiety the skin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161124081604.htm>.