In his book, Descartes’ error, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio wrote that the brain, judgment, and the emotions are all intricately connected than what people have previously believed. Gathering from this and other such findings, a new study has revealed that depression and anxiety might as well be as bad for your health as obesity and smoking.

It also learned that both of these mental ailments are not linked to cancer. However, they leave multiple negative effects on your health. This is probably the reason why these cognitive conditions are being contrasted to anxiety and depression. Let’s find out more:

A new study reveals how depression and anxiety affect our health

The latest investigation has been headed by Aoife O’Donovan, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, alongside her colleague Andrea Niles, Ph.D. The objective was to learn how psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression affect an individuals’ physical health.

The findings appeared in the journal of the American Psychological Association, Health Psychology and picked data from a participant pool of 15,000 seniors. Accurately speaking, health data from 15,418 retirees aged 68 on average was gathered.

The data was collected from a governmental study, which conducted interviews to assess the participants’ anxiety and depression symptoms. Participants were asked questions related to their medical conditions, weight, smoking status, and so on. They also gave information about their weight.

What did the study learn?

The analysis learned that:

  • 16% of the participants had anxiety and depression
  • 31% of the participants were obese
  • 14% of the participants were smokers

The researchers then went on to find the association between these health concerns. It learned that those with high anxiety and depression levels were 65% increased risk of developing a heart condition. Of these people, the findings showed that:

  • 64% of these people were likely to have stroke
  • 50% of the people were at increased odds of develop high blood pressure
  • 65% of the folks were at the risk of having a heart condition
  • 87% of the individuals were likely to have anxiety

All these risks were found in comparison with people who did not have depression or anxiety. In this regard, O’Donovan, pointed out, “These increased odds are similar to those of participants who are smokers or are obese.” And added, “However, for arthritis, high anxiety and depression seem to confer higher risks than smoking and obesity.”

Anxiety and depression are not related to cancer

The scientists also found out that cancer did not have a relationship with depression and anxiety. These findings align with what the previous studies have found out – there is no correlation between cancer, depression, and anxiety.

In other words, these psychological ailments are not a strong predictor of many cancer types. The researchers insist that we need to stop linking cancer with depression, stress, and anxiety as there isn’t a connection between them.

Moving forward – Taking care of your mental health

In the US, there are more than 16 million people who have suffered at least one major depressive episode. What’s more, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that there are more than 19% of adults in the US who have had an anxiety disorder in the past years.

Keeping all these factors in mind, it is essential that you take care of your mental wellbeing. If you find that your stress or anxiety is beyond your control and keeps worsening, then you need to talk to a doctor. Otherwise, deal with the problem(s) that make you sad or anxious.