Experts at the University of Sussex and University College London found evidence that chronic childhood illness increases the risk of depression and anxiety in adulthood.
Researchers reviewed evidence from a large number of medical studies, looking for links between eight chronic physical illnesses in childhood, such as arthritis, asthma and cancer, and emotional problems in later life.
The paper, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, revealed sufferers of all chronic conditions reviewed were at heightened risk of developing depression or anxiety that persisted beyond childhood.
Experts said the results suggested mental health prevention strategies targeting chronic illness sufferers in youth could be vital to help prevent serious long-term conditions.
Psychologist Dr Darya Gaysina, senior researcher on the project at the University of Sussex, said cancer in particular was found to be significantly linked to adult depression.
“Very little is known about life-long effects of childhood chronic physical illness on mental health,” she said.
“Our results show that childhood chronic physical illness was significantly associated with adult depression in the total sample of more than 45,000 participants we studied.
“In particular, we found that cancer was significantly associated with adult depression.”
Gaysina felt the link highlighted in the study could help mental health professionals approach young patients with chronic conditions in a different way.
This piece was first seen on ‘SBS News’ 4 May 2017.