A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that individuals aged 18 and older who had any mental illness, major depressive episodes or serious mental illness in the past year, are more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, cardiovascular disease, or have a stroke, than those not experiencing mental illness.

For example, 18.3% of adults who have not experienced any mental illness in the past year had high blood pressure, compared to 21.9% of those experiencing any mental illness. In addition, 10.6% of adults without mental illness in the past year also had asthma, compared to 15.7% of adults who had any mental illness.

In addition, the researchers found that individuals who suffered from a serious mental illness (i.e. a mental illness resulting in severe functional impairment substantially interfering with one or more major life activities) in the past year were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, and stroke than adults without serious mental illnesses.

Individuals who had major depressive episodes lasting 2+ weeks were more likely (24.1%) to develop high blood pressure than adults without experiencing major depressive episodes in the past year (19.8%), 8.9% to develop diabetes vs. 7.1%, 6.5% to develop cardiovascular disease vs. 4.6%, 17.0% asthma vs. 11.4%, and 2.5% stoke vs. 1.1%.

Furthermore, the researchers found that individual who experienced serious mental illness in the past year were more likely to to use emergency departments (47.6%) than adults without serious mental illness (30.5%). In addition, adults who experienced serious mental illness were more likely to have been hospitalized (20.4%) than those without serious mental illness (11.6%). SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, explained:

"Behavioral health is essential to health. This is a key SAMHSA message and is underscored by this data. Promoting health and wellness for individuals, families and communities means treating behavioral health needs with the same commitment and vigor as any other physical health condition. Communities, families, and individuals cannot achieve health without addressing behavioral health."

The report entitled, Physical Health Conditions among Adults with Mental Illnesses is based on SAMHSA's 2008-2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data. NSDUH is an annual nationally representative survey of the U.S. civilian, non-institutionalized population aged 12 or older.

Written By Grace Rattue