Mental and Physical Disorders Linked at Early Age Interview with:


Prof. Dr. Gunther Meinlschmidt, Psych
University of Basel, Department of Psychology, Division of Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology
Faculty of Medicine
Switzerland What is the background for this study?

Response: Physical diseases and mental disorders affect a person’s quality of life. Further, they present a huge challenge for the healthcare system. It has been reported that physical and mental disorders systematically co-occur already early in life. What we wanted to know is whether there are certain temporal patterns between mental disorders and physical diseases during childhood and adolescence. A better understanding of such patterns may help to reveal processes that could be relevant both to the origins of physical diseases and mental disorders and to their treatment. What are the main findings?

Response:  Affective disorders such as depression were frequently followed by arthritis and diseases of the digestive system, while the same relationship existed between anxiety disorders and skin diseases. Anxiety disorders were more common if the person had already suffered from heart disease. A close association was also established for the first time between epileptic disorders and subsequent eating disorders. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Clinicians and patients should keep in mind that mental disorders and physical diseases appear to be systematically linked. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: We need more research on the integrated treatment of mental disorders and physical diseases. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The findings underscore that the treatment of mental disorders and physical diseases should be closely interlinked from an early age on – a huge taks for health policy makers and health care providers alike. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Marion Tegethoff, Esther Stalujanis, Angelo Belardi, Gunther Meinlschmidt. Chronology of Onset of Mental Disorders and Physical Diseases in Mental-Physical Comorbidity – A National Representative Survey of Adolescents. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (10): e0165196 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165196

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Last Updated on December 3, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD