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Psychological Factors Affecting Physical Conditions Like Hypertension & Asthma

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  • 0:07 Direct & Indirect Factors
  • 1:27 Hypertension
  • 2:05 Hypertension Correlations
  • 3:23 Asthma
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Everyone knows that psychological issues bring all sorts of problems. But did you know they can affect physical ailments, like hypertension and asthma? In this lesson, we'll look at the different ways that psychological disorders can make physical problems worse.

Direct and Indirect Factors

Have you ever felt down in the dumps and discovered that you have less energy than you usually do? Or, maybe you get sick after you've been feeling particularly stressed. Many studies have shown that psychological factors can affect physical conditions.

There are two main ways that psychological factors can influence physical conditions: direct and indirect. Direct factors lead to a physical complication just because you have the psychological issue. For example, depression is a direct factor on insomnia; just having depression can lead to insomnia.

Compare that to indirect factors, which lead to physical complications because of the way the psychological issue impacts your behaviors. For example, anxiety can be an indirect factor for lung cancer, since people who feel anxious often smoke to relieve their anxiety, and smoking can lead to lung cancer.

Studies have shown that a higher proportion of people with anxiety have lung cancer than the general population. However, that doesn't mean that the studies have found that anxiety is a direct cause of lung cancer, only that the two go together in some way. When two things go together, but are not cause-and-effect, it is called a correlation. Let's look at two common physical ailments and how they can be affected by psychological issues.

Hypertension

One common physical ailment that can be affected by psychological issues is hypertension. Hypertension is the medical term for chronically high blood pressure. There are many other medical conditions that hypertension can increase the risk of, including heart disease, aneurism and kidney disease. It can even lead to premature death.

There are many causes of hypertension, including salt intake, genetics and environmental factors. However, in addition to these, there are several psychological conditions that can directly or indirectly affect hypertension.

Hypertension Correlations

Anger issues are correlated with hypertension. These can range from defensiveness and suppressed anger to personality disorders. Studies have shown that having anger issues increases your risk of hypertension, though again, they cannot say that anger is a direct cause of hypertension.

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