Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mental inextricably linked to the physical

The true burden of mental ill health is unrecognized since many "physical" problems are really "mind" problems. Most lung cancers are caused by addiction to smoking, and some obesity by a brain-driven compulsion to eat, says UK psychiatrist Dr Peter Jones. And to tackle such problems experts need to go back to delving the mind. He and other leading mental health experts are calling for more research.

Mental illness in its "classic" sense, including depression and schizophrenia, affects one in four people in the United Kingdom each year but receives just 5% of total health research spending. Yet the economic, social and human cost of mental illness totals far more.

And many "physical" health problems involve a strong mental component. Professor Peter Jones, head of psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, said: "Mental health and illness are seen as separate from physical health and disorders but it's becoming increasingly clear that is wrong. We need to zip together physical and mental health. It is absurd to think that biological processes would stop at the neck."

People with severe mental illnesses are nearly three times more likely to develop diabetes and other cardiovascular disease risk factors and, on average, die 25-30 years younger.

Bonnie - we have discussed the Gut/Brian Connection repeatedly over the years. There is an absolute connection between the mental and the physical. However, it is not just a one-way street. You can definitely heal the mental by addressing the physical. This is what most mental experts miss.

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