Stress, if left untreated, can cause various serious ailments, such as depression, anxiety, diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, etc. Though mild stress is unavoidable, it must be kept in mind that experiencing the “fight or flight” response on a daily basis can be a warning sign of a serious illness.
A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found an association between mental illness and health complications, including cervical cancer. Cervical cancer has become a threat for adolescent women who carry the human papillomavirus (HPV), which, if undetected, can remain inside the body for a prolonged period.
To know whether the patient can get rid of the infection or not is a great leap in determining the severity of the disease in later years of life. The study found an association between depression and HPV persistence. The study is one of its kind that focuses on measuring the amount of stress that a woman goes through during her adolescence and the chances of overcoming HPV-related symptoms.
In the 2016 study, titled “Psychosocial Stress, Maladaptive Coping and HPV Persistence,” the researchers analyzed 333 women aged 19 years, whom they began following in 2000 and took sample test for HPV after every six months. After 11 years, when the women turned 28, the researchers gave them a questionnaire asking if they had encountered stress or depression during the past years. They then used their answers to identify their susceptibility to HPV persistence or whether they were absolutely devoid of the infection.
Surprisingly, the women who resorted to various coping mechanisms, such as taking drugs, drinking and smoking, to combat stress had higher chance of developing an active HPV infection. Additionally, those who suffered bouts of severe stress and depression were likely to experience HPV persistence.
Previous studies have demonstrated that HPV can be a precursor to a range of infections caused by herpes virus, apart from poor survival for those suffering from cancer. As stress is associated with abnormal immune responses, it is advisable for women with HPV infection to reduce stressful conditions in life to get rid of the devastating effects of the infection. The researchers also suggested that use of the usual coping strategies like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes may hinder their chances of recovery.
Lead researcher Anna-Barbara Moscicki, MD, FAAP, chief of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, said, “Women who were depressed or perceived themselves to have lots of stress were more likely to have HPV persistence.”
A 2015 survey by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) revealed that nearly 10 million American adults (one in 25) are living with a serious functional impairment due to a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety disorder.
Medication and psychotherapy are the most common methods of treating depression and other mental health issues. But when it comes to patients with an underlying physical illness, like a serious infection, recovery may take longer time than usual.
It is important for healthcare providers to be aware of the symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients who are grappling with a serious ailment such as cancer. If you or your loved one is battling any form of mental illness, contact the Arizona Mental Health Helpline to know about various mental health treatment options in Arizona. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-606-7791 or chat online for further information on one of the best mental health disorder treatment centers in Arizona.