Mental health, which comprises a person’s social, psychological and emotional well-being, is essential in every aspect of life. Poor mental health, however, can lead to several serious illnesses. In fact, a new study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology suggested that stress and psychosocial trauma can result in increased risk of autoimmune diseases such as lupus.

It’s a known fact that mental health enables us to live our lives to the fullest, as well as strengthens and supports our ability to handle or cope with the daily stressors in life, relate to others and make choices.

But if our state of mind is unhealthy, our moods, behavior, way of thinking and our over-all physical health could be affected.

The study

In the recent study, which was headed by Dr. Andrea Roberts of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, the team found that PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) could increase the risk of lupus by almost three times, Medical News Today noted. Roberts admitted that their findings took them by surprise because exposure to traumatic events or experiences was a “stronger predictor” in causing lupus as compared to cigarette smoking.

Due to their findings, Roberts stressed that mental health could really affect one’s physical health.

She added that their study suggested that it’s about time to make mental health care accessibility “more urgent.”

Post-traumatic stress

Findings of PTSD associated with the increasing risks of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety have long been established.

There were also studies that linked psychosocial trauma to heart failure. But what exactly is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder refers to the mental health condition that develops in some individuals who have experienced a dangerous, shocking or scary event, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) noted. Even though some people who were exposed to a traumatic situation recover, persons diagnosed with PTSD may feel threatened, frightened or stressed even when they are not in danger.

In the United States, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimated that eight million adults have PTSD. The National Center for PTSD added that seven or eight out of every 100 people will experience the condition in their lifetime, with women more likely to develop PTSD compared to men.


Lupus, on the other hand, is defined as a “chronic inflammatory disease” that develops when the immune system attacks your own organs and tissues. According to Mayo Clinic, this condition is hard to diagnose because the symptoms mimic those of other diseases.

Lupus could also affect several organs in the body such as the heart, lungs, blood cells, brain, joints, skin, and kidneys.

Unfortunately, the condition has no cure but treatments are available to help control its symptoms.

There are several types of lupus and the most common of which is systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. There is also the so-called lupus myelitis, which afflicts the spinal cord, and lupus nephritis that affects the kidneys. Compared to men, women are most at risk to develop the condition.

Meanwhile, many Hollywood celebrities have been diagnosed with lupus. These include Selena Gomez, Nick Cannon, Toni Braxton and Kristen Johnston. Singer Oleta Adams also suffered lupus for a decade, while Seal suffered the condition when he was a child, which explained his facial scars, as per St. Thomas’ Lupus Trust.