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Half of Young Asthma Sufferers Likely to Have a Mental Health Disorder

Teenager with AsthmaAdolescents with poorly controlled asthma are putting their mental health on the line, report Australian researchers.

Their survey of 533 people aged 12-25 with asthma shows just over half have K10 scores which suggest they are likely to have a mental health disorder. This is double the rate in the wider adolescent population.

A survey report released by Asthma Australia calls for GPs to better educate young patients on the management of their condition. It also highlights the need for additional training and support for GPs.

The data shows few adolescents take their daily preventive medications, with many relying heavily on reliever medications such as Ventolin.

“These young people’s reasons for not taking medications regularly included feeling well (and therefore feeling that the medications are not warranted), and their perception that the doctor did not tell them to take it every day,” the researchers report.

However, despite poorly controlled asthma, the vast majority believe their condition is well controlled. Half do not have an asthma plan.

As a result their physical and mental health is suffering, say the researchers.

Asthma Australia medical and scientific advisory committee chairman Dr Simon Bowler says there are two possibilities for mental issues stemming from poor asthma management.

"Having asthma and not sleeping properly and being breathless during the day causes you mental distress," Dr Bowler says.

"Or possibly the alternative, which is the mental distress in some way interferes with your ability to look after yourself."

"I suspect it's more the former than the latter but we don't have hard and fast evidence."

The study authors suggest support be embedded into existing youth-specific mental health services as a way to reach young people outside an asthma-specific context. - with AAP

Adapted from Amanda Davey's article "Uncontrolled Asthma Rife Among Adolescents" for 6Minutes.

Disclaimer: The above article is not intended as medical advice and is not necessarily representative of Alive and Kicking Medical Practices' beliefs or philosophies. The intention of this article is simply to share ideas, thoughts and theories currently being explored within medical and scientific communities. You should always speak with your doctor or a qualified medical practitioner before starting, ceasing, or altering medical treatment.