Anxiety and depression affect physical health

A new study that investigates the physical health risks of psychiatric conditions shows that depression and anxiety could be just as bad for your health as smoking and obesity.

Researchers at the University of California investigated data on health of more than 15,000 seniors over 4 years that assessed the symptoms of anxiety and depression on participants.

The seniors also answered questions about their weight, smoking status, and medical conditions they had been diagnosed for.

The data showed that 16 percent had high levels of anxiety and depression, 31 percent had obesity, and 14 percent were smokers. The study also revealed among those living with high levels of anxiety and depression, 65 percent were more likely to develop a heart condition, 64 percent more likely to have a stroke, 50 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure, and 87 percent more likely to have arthritis than people who did not have anxiety or depression.

The increased odds were found to be similar to those participants who identified themselves as smokers or obese. The study also showed that high anxiety and depression seemed to confer higher risks on patients with arthritis than smoking and obesity. Of all the conditions investigated, the scientists found that cancer was the only one that did not correlate with anxiety and depression, confirming that psychological distress was not a strong predictor of many types of cancer.