Mental health and physical health (Including HIV/AIDS)

Kagee, Ashraf ; Freeman, Melvyn (2008)

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INTRODUCTION: According to the World Health Report 2001, over the past 20 years a fundamental and inseparable connection between mental and physical health has been convincingly established (WHO, 2001). Both mental and physical health are influenced by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. Thoughts, feelings, and behaviour have a major impact on physical health. Conversely, physical health has an important influence on mental health and wellbeing. The report notes two critical pathways through which this occurs: Physiological systems such as neuro-endocrine and immune functioning and health behaviour. These pathways are not independent: Behaviour may affect physiology, while physiological functioning may in turn affect health behaviour. In this article, we examine the historical shift that has occurred from a dualistic conception of health and illness to the bio-psychosocial model that emphasizes an integration of mind and body. We explore this interrelationship using the examples of somatoform disorder, chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. Finally, we focus on some of the somatic manifestations of mental illness.

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