In this blog post, we will discuss the cyclical effect of symptoms on mental health. Symptoms are the physical or mental signs that something is wrong with our body or mind. Some common symptoms are pain, fatigue, nausea, insomnia, and sexual problems. Symptoms can affect our mood and well-being, sometimes leading to anxiety and depression.
But how does this happen? And what can we do to break the cycle?
One way to understand the cyclical effect of symptoms is to look at the concept of symptom burden. Symptom burden is how symptoms interfere with our daily functioning and quality of life. The number and severity of symptoms determine how we cope with them and how much support we have. A higher symptom burden means that we have more difficulty doing what we want or need to do and feel more distressed and unhappy.
A recent study by researchers from Norway and Sweden investigated the relationship between symptom burden and anxiety and depression in a sample of 1,024 patients with chronic diseases. They measured the total symptom burden and the specific burden of fatigue and sexual problems. They also assessed the levels of anxiety and depression using a standardized questionnaire.
The results showed that higher total symptoms and fatigue were associated with higher odds of anxiety and depression. This means that patients who experienced more symptoms overall, particularly fatigue, were more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Moreover, high level of sexual problems was also linked to higher odds of anxiety and depression. This means that patients with more difficulties with sexual functioning or satisfaction were more likely to have mental health problems.
These findings suggest that there is a cyclical effect of symptoms on mental health. Symptoms can cause anxiety and depression, worsening or making them harder to cope with. This can create a vicious circle that is hard to escape from. Therefore, it is essential to address symptom management's physical and psychological aspects. By reducing the symptom burden and improving the quality of life, we can also lower the risk of anxiety and depression, and vice versa.