Chronic liver conditions might lead to constant and successive deterioration and regeneration of the liver parenchyma, resulting in disorders like cirrhosis. A recent research has claimed that bouts of depressive behavior and incessant nervousness may cloud normal living of adolescents and young adults afflicted with chronic liver conditions.
A group of scientists in the study, titled “Liver transplantation and adolescence: The role of mental health,” indicated that young patients suffering from prolonged liver conditions needed more attention regarding their emotional health. The study, published in the journal Liver Transplantation in October 2016, attempted to find the extent of pervasiveness of anxiety and depression in young people, aged between 15 and 23 years, suffering from chronic liver conditions.
The research was based on the premise that young people diagnosed with chronic illnesses were more likely to suffer from mental disorders compared to the general population. The researchers also tried to pinpoint conditions that might result in feelings of distress in these young patients and the extent to which anxiety and depression might impact their understanding regarding their illness and treatment.
The scientists observed 187 patients, aged between 16 and 25 years, attending an outpatient liver transition clinic in London. The patients were divided into three groups – those who had undergone liver transplantation, those suffering from autoimmune liver disorders, and those with chronic liver diseases.
On the basis of the answers to the questionnaire, the scientists observed that 17.7 percent respondents were suffering from severe anxiety or depression. However, this was higher than the 4-6 percent prevalence anxiety or depression in the general adolescent population. A detailed examination of the patients showed that the patients in most cases attributed their emotional distress to tiredness, insomnia, economic conditions, problems faced at the workplace or in school, persistent tendency to worry and lack of self-respect.
An evaluation of the participants indicated that depressive behavior and anxious tendencies seemed to influence the patients’ thinking regarding their liver problems affecting them on an emotional level. It was found that depression and anxiety did not have much of a significant association with the patients’ perception of their illness or their conviction about how much treatment can help them recover.
Elucidating on the nature of results, one of the co-authors Dr. Marianne Samyn of King’s College Hospital, London said, “Health care professionals should be aware of the high prevalence of mental health problems in young people with liver conditions and routinely inquire about young people’s psychosocial circumstances as both can impact on their illness and outcome.”
The authors of the study also added that the most common concerns among young liver patients were quite similar to that faced by their peers that could be handled by a team of multidisciplinary doctors.
Anxiety disorders that haunt millions of Americans every year are treatable. Such disorders are, in fact, the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting around 40 million adults across the country, as per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). As severe anxiety can cripple relationships and affect the normal functioning of life, it is necessary to seek expert advice for anxiety problems.
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