Children who experience abuse or other adversities and develop mental health disorders are at increased risk for chronic physical problems when they're adults, according to a new study.
Researchers examined data from people in 10 countries included in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys initiative. The team looked at anxiety disorders and depression in children and at the following childhood adversities: abuse, neglect, loss of a parent through death or other causes, divorce, parental substance abuse, parental criminal behaviour, family violence and being poor.
Both anxiety and depression in childhood were associated with three chronic pain conditions in adulthood: osteoarthritis, chronic spinal pain (back or neck), and frequent or severe headache.
Physical abuse in childhood was associated with a number of chronic diseases in adulthood: heart disease, asthma, diabetes, osteoarthritis, chronic spinal pain and headache.
The greater the number of childhood adversities, the higher the risk of physical health problems in adulthood, the investigators found.
"These results are consistent with the hypothesis that childhood adversities and early-onset mental disorders have independent, broad-spectrum effects that increase the risk of diverse chronic physical conditions in later life," concluded Kate M. Scott, of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and colleagues.
The study is published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.
The American Academy of Family Physicians explains how your emotions affect your health.
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