People with negative stress have a higher risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases or cancer

A team of National Epidemiology Center of the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) has published research in the journal Journal of Psychiatric Research that evaluates the association between psychological distress and mortality in the Spanish adult population. The conclusion of the study is that individuals with psychological distress (negative) have a higher risk of mortality both from general causes, as for cardiovascular diseases and by different types of cancer.

According to different guidesdistress is defined like ‘unpleasant stress’, one that ‘produces a progressive loss of energy, emotional exhaustion and general demotivation’. For example, the Spanish Society for the Study of Anxiety and Stress (SEAS), explains that “every person makes constant cognitive and behavioral efforts to adequately manage the situations that arise, therefore, not all stress has negative consequences. Only when the situation exceeds the capacity of control of the subject negative consequences occur. This negative result is called distressunlike positive stress, or eustress, which can be a good driver of behavioral activity (work, for example)”.

No diagnosis

The study by the Carlos III Health Institute is framed in the work group ‘Mortality to Spanish Health Surveys (MESES)’, led by ISCIII researcher Iñaki Galán, of which researchers Teresa López-Cuadrado -first signatory of the work- are part, Cristina Ortiz and Ana Ayuso-Álvarez. The team has observed that this association is greater among people who had not previously been diagnosed with a mental disorderand in patients who were not taking prescribed medication for mental problems.

For the research, 21,003 individuals have been analyzed, who have been followed up for nine years.

For the research, 21,003 individuals have been analyzed, who have been followed up for nine years. Specifically, the overall mortality risk among people with psychological disorders who already had a previous diagnosis of a mental disorder was 1.18, compared to 1.34 in people without such a diagnosis.

Lower risk in medications

According to what was observed, participants with psychological distress who were taking drugs for the treatment of mental disorders had a lower risk of mortality than those who were not in treatment. Teresa López-Cuadrado and Iñaki Galán point out that the conclusions of this work can have important implications in public health.

To carry out this research, data from the National Health Survey, coordinated by the Ministry of Health, has been used.

Because, researchers say, “Despite the high prevalence of problems of mental health, “Many people do not seek professional help promptly, and therefore may receive treatment too late, or not at all.”

To carry out this research data has been used from the National Health Surveywhich coordinates the Ministry of Healthalong with information from death records until December 2020. The main analysis variable is the so-called ‘GHQ-12’, a self-administered screening instrument that aims to detect the prevalence of probable cases of psychiatric morbidity or psychological illness in the population.

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