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Mental Health Comorbidities Impact on Diagnosis and Treatment


Comorbidity is a medical term that describes more than one healthy condition (disorder) that can affect the same person. For instance, you may be diagnosed with both major depressive disorder(MDD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) at the same time. When this happens, rest assured that you have comorbid. That is, depressive and anxiety disorders are co-existing within you. 

Other common comorbid disorders include physical ailments like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, and dementia among others. Mental health conditions with comorbidity include anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders. Such mental health comorbidities impact diagnosis. Not to mention impacting anxiety disorder treatment and similar disorders.

Impact of Comorbidities on Diagnosis of Mental Health Disorder

Comorbidity is likely to distract both the health professional and the patient. This type of distraction can lead to delayed diagnosis. On the other hand, comorbidity can cause increased contact with available health services, creating more opportunities for early diagnosis and screening. 

How these two incidents play out depends majorly on the disorder and comorbidity type. However, the main impact of comorbidity on the diagnosis of various disorders depends on the following three factors:

1. The severity of Comorbidity

If you are a patient with comorbidity you may need frequent visits to physicians. As such, you will have a great opportunity to have mental health disorders investigated at the earliest and taken care of.

On the contrary, your other symptoms may be overlooked by your physician if you have comorbidity. This can make your condition to be more severe unless a proper diagnosis is done.

2. Health Service Factors

Your mental health comorbidities diagnosis may also be impacted by health service factors. This is due to the fact that the organization responsible for funding health services can determine how comorbidity influences diagnosis stages. Mental health conditions that are effectively diagnosed and detected can be treated at the right time. 

On the other hand, health service factors can enable those with mental health comorbidities to have regular access to proper health services or have their condition’s early signs or symptoms recognized for further treatment.

3. Interactions between the Mental Health Disorder and Comorbidity

Interaction between your anxiety disorder and specific comorbid conditions can have an impact on the diagnosis process. Some of these comorbid conditions may be diagnosed earlier than others, causing more challenges to their treatment. 

Impact of Comorbidities on Treatment of Mental Health Disorders

Your anxiety disorder treatment may be affected in one way or the other if you have mental health comorbidities. In other words, you’re likely not to receive the most effective curative treatment for your condition. This happens often due to interference from other comorbidities that your doctor may not be aware of. 

Numerous studies reveal that those with mental health comorbidities are more likely to receive less anxiety disorder treatment than those without. However, some researchers have reported findings that comorbidities can lead to overtreatment of certain conditions including mental health.

Impact of Comorbidity on Treatment of Mental Health Disorder Choice and Uptake

Several reasons explain the effect of comorbidity on mental health disorder treatment uptake. Some conditions may increase the side effects and toxicity of the treatment itself. As a result, the treatment may become less effective or make the patient’s situation worse than before. 

Some patients may even decline the treatment when their mental health condition does not improve due to the effect of their comorbidity. The impact of comorbidity on the treatment of mental health disorders may also extend to treatment effectiveness and toxicity, survival of the patient, and quality of life.

Additional Challenges

One of the challenges that can impact the treatment of mental health comorbidities is the overlap of psychiatric conditions with medical conditions. These two conditions prose a significant challenge across health professionals handling anxiety disorder treatment among patients with comorbidities. 

For instance, if you are diagnosed with anxiety disorder and diabetes you stand a chance of receiving treatment for both cases. However, considerations for overlap between your symptoms and medications would require coordination by several health care professionals administering the treatment. 

Final Thought

You should consult with your mental health professional or primary health care physician to determine the right course of action for your comorbidity. Your unique combination of disorders and symptoms will help determine whether therapy is good for you or medication is appropriate for your condition.

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