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Studies show that the fight for mental health in adolescence can lead to poor physical health in adulthood




According to researchers, early childhood mental health interventions can prevent illness and social costs at a later stage.  (File photo)

Lawrence Smith / Staff

According to researchers, early childhood mental health interventions can prevent illness and social costs at a later stage. (File photo)

Studies have shown that people who suffer from anxiety, depression, and substance use at an early age are more likely to be ill and older than people of the same age.

Studies have shown that participants with a history of mental health struggles in middle-aged, rapidly aging young people have impaired sensory, motor, and cognitive function and appear older than their peers. ..

Patterns that were retained even after data were managed for health factors such as weight, smoking, medication, and previous physical illness.

Mental health problems when participants were young included anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, in addition to substance use.

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The findings come from a long-term Dunedin study that monitored the health and well-being of 1,000 New Zealanders born in 1972 and 1973 to the age of 45.

The new study was carried out by researchers at the University of Otago and Duke University in North Carolina.

Professor Ritchie Paulton, director of research at Dunedin, said there is room for further research to investigate the exact reason for the association between mental health problems and subsequent physical health problems.

Dunedin Research Director, Professor Ritchie Paulton.


Dunedin Research Director, Professor Ritchie Paulton.

“Our study ruled out behavioral and lifestyle factors, such as people who smoke or eat unhealthy foods because of depression, but there are many other questions.”

Other possibilities, according to Paulton, are long-term inflammation of the body that can be caused by a person’s general vulnerabilities, deterioration of health, or mental health problems. There are effects and so on.

He said there was one thing for sure.

“The important driving role of poor mental health that emerges early in creating the risk of numerous physical health problems later in life simplifies early mental health intervention.”

Jasmine Welts, a postdoctoral fellow at Duke who led the study, said the findings showed that it was possible to identify people at risk for physical illness much earlier in life.

“If you can improve their mental health in childhood and adolescence, you may intervene to improve their subsequent physical health and aging.”

Increasing investment in rapid mental health care can not only prevent later illnesses, but also reduce social health care costs.

The findings were consistent with the results of another related study conducted by some of the same studies as Associate Professor Barry Milne of the University of Auckland.

The study used a different approach by examining 30-year hospital records of 2.3 million New Zealanders between the ages of 10 and 60 from 1988 to 2018.

We also found that there was a strong association between early mental health diagnosis and late medical and neurological illness.

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