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Poor Mental Health might Trigger Unhealthy Behaviors in Low-Income Adults

Update Date: Feb 04, 2013 07:43 AM EST

In case of people from the lower economic strata, poor mental health might result in their unusual behaviors and it is not vice versa, a recent study reported.

The study was done by Dr. Jennifer Walsh and other researchers from the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at the Miriam Hospital in the U.S. The result was published in the online Springer journal Translational Behavioral medicine.

The researchers found the volunteers using smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, unprotected sex and unhealthy diets as a way of dealing with their stress and anxiety. In the study, 482 adults were enlisted, all of them being treated at a sexually transmitted infection clinic. The results were analyzed through their online interview conducted after a duration of every three months from the first interview. The interviews tracked their behaviors like smoking, drinking, drug use, sexual behavior, diets, exercise and sleep and compared them with the level of their anxiety depression and stress.

The volunteers showed common symptoms of unhealthy behaviors like smoking, drinking, illegal use of drugs, unsafe sex, unhealthy diet and disturbed sleeping pattern. The number of the behaviors was more for the low-income groups which was also accompanied by higher levels of depression, stress and anxiety. The authors were able to predict the unhealthy behaviors of the volunteers on considering their mental health and socioeconomic background, however, the reverse was not possible. They were unable to predict the mental health from the unhealthy behavior, thus proving that the former influences the latter.

"Clinicians and practitioners should recognize that there may be high rates of depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as health-compromising behaviors, in low-income populations, and they should assess mental health as well as these behaviors," the author was quoted as saying in medicalxpress.

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