Researchers from a variety of different scientific and holistic background alike have long believed in a mind-body connection, and now there is further evidence to support the influence that mood can have on the physical function of our bodies.
As individuals, we experience the mind-body nexus on a daily basis – feeling butterflies at the thought of an exciting or nerve-wracking prospect, for example.
As an extension to our understanding, a study recently published in BMC Medicine has shown that mood disorders can be strongly associated with physical illness.
The study involved data from 942 men aged 20-97 years who were participating in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. Researchers analysed the history of mood and anxiety disorders of the patients’ lifetime and compared this with the lifetime presence of medical condition (both self-reported and those confirmed through medical records/medication use).
Medication usage and lifestyle were also examined, and the results were adjusted to remove any influence of age, socioeconomic status, and other health risk factors, including body mass index, level of physical activity, and smoking.
The results revealed that mood disorders were associated with multiple physiological conditions, including gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), recurrent headaches, blackouts/epilepsy, liver disorders and pulmonary disease, while anxiety disorders were associated with thyroid, gastrointestinal disorders and psoriasis.
The authors concluded that their study provides population-based evidence supportive of the link between mental and physical illness in men, and that understanding these associations is important both at the level of the individual and in wider health promotion and medical care.