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For Teens, Happy Mind Leads to Healthy Body

The benefits of a sound mind-body connection can be traced to ancient Greco-Roman cultures. New research finds the relationship is especially is true for adolescents as happier youths are also healthier youths.

Emily Shaffer-Hudkins and her team, from the University of South Florida believe adolescents’ positive emotions and moods, as well as their satisfaction with life, could be more important than their anxiety or depression levels for predicting their physical health.

The researchers believe evaluating teenagers so-called ‘subjective well-being’ can help identify those likely to develop health problems in the future. Appropriate prevention strategies can then be provided to those at high risk.

Shaffer-Hudkins’ work is published in Springer’s journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

To date, the majority of the research looking at the relationship between mental health and physical health in young people has focused primarily on how symptoms of poor mental health, or psychopathology, such as anxiety and depression, relate to physical functioning.

This approach fails to take into account the potential influence of positive indicators of mental health, such as positive emotions and mood states and life satisfaction, known as subjective well-being.

Shaffer-Hudkins’ study is the first to look at both positive and negative indicators of mental health in relation to physical health in a sample of 401 students in grades 6-8 from a suburban southeastern middle school in the United States.

The teenagers rated their satisfaction with life, whether they had recently felt excited, strong and proud (positive affect) as well as lonely, guilty and sad (negative affect).

They were also asked about feeling withdrawn, anxious and depressed and about delinquent and aggressive behavior (all indicators of psychopathology). Finally, they told researchers about their physical health.

Overall, perceived good physical health was strongly linked to life satisfaction and feeling excited, strong and proud. Those who said they felt lonelier, guiltier, more anxious and depressed and who were more likely to display undesirable behaviors reported being less healthy physically.

More specifically, mental health indicators explained 30 percent of the difference in physical health ratings and four out of the five mental health indicators were unique predictors of physical health. Positive affect in particular had the greatest effect.

In light of these findings, the authors argue that both positive and negative indicators of mental health need to be considered when developing a comprehensive model of mental health. Wellness models need to be holistic with a joint mind and body approach.

They conclude: “Findings from the current study underscore the importance of attending to positive wellness-focused indicators of mental health among youth.

Subjective well-being is a significant, unique, and primary predictor of important physical health outcomes in youth and is more strongly associated with physical functioning than is psychopathology.

Examining only psychopathology may lead to an underestimation of the relationship between mental health and physical health in young people.”

Source: Springer

For Teens, Happy Mind Leads to Healthy Body

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). For Teens, Happy Mind Leads to Healthy Body. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 12, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/07/09/for-teens-happy-mind-leads-to-healthy-body/15438.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.