Asthma common among those with poor mental health

By Tom Nordlie • Published: April 1st, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Life getting you down? It happens to everyone at times.

But if you experience mental health impairment frequently, it increases your risk for asthma.

That’s a disease where airways suddenly constrict, resulting in shortness of breath.

Scientists aren’t sure why this link exists. But an article in the journal Chest confirms that it’s there.

Researchers analyzed data from a nationwide health survey involving more than three-hundred-thousand adults.

Participants were asked if they’d ever been diagnosed with asthma, and if they still had it.

They also estimated how many days they’d experienced poor mental health during the past month. This could include depression, stress and problems with emotions.

The results showed that people who reported one to two weeks of poor mental health were almost fifty percent more likely to suffer from asthma, compared with people reporting no bad days.

Asthma was sixty-seven percent more likely in those reporting two to three weeks of mental health impairment.

And it was two-hundred-seventy-five percent more likely among people who reported more than three bad weeks per month.

For former asthmatics the situation was completely different. They were just as likely to report perfect mental health or serious impairment.

It’s a puzzling situation.

The researchers say stress may promote asthma by affecting hormone production. And other factors may be involved.

In any case, if you have trouble coping, tell your doctor. She can suggest strategies to improve your mental health.

And that can help you breathe easier, whether you have asthma or not.