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Browsing by Author "Luoma, Katri"

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  • Luoma, Katri (2021)
    Aims of the study. Autoimmune diseases are chronic diseases caused by dysfunction of the immune system. It has been suggested that mental disorders may be associated with the onset of autoimmune diseases, and previous studies have shown an association between autoimmune diseases and anxiety disorders. However, previous research has largely focused on trauma- and stress-related disorders and little research has been done on generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder causes chronic psychological stress, which in turn can affect the neuroendocrine and immunological systems. So far, the causal relationships between anxiety disorders and autoimmune diseases are unclear, as the association has been studied mainly with cross-sectional settings. The aim of this study is to examine the two-way association between generalized anxiety disorder and autoimmune diseases in a longitudinal setting. Methods. American MIDUS (The National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States) longitudinal data were used in this study (n = 4244). In addition to pure autoimmune diseases, autoimmune-based thyroid diseases and arthritis are examined. Generalized anxiety disorder was assessed using the CIDI-SF interview framework. The association between generalized anxiety disorder and autoimmune diseases was analyzed using logistic regression. The first regression model included gender, age and demographic factors (education, employment and marital status) and the second model included gender, age and health behaviors (body mass index and smoking). Results and conclusions. A two-way association was found between generalized anxiety disorder and autoimmune diseases. Pre-existing generalized anxiety disorder increased the risk of autoimmune diseases and a pre-existing autoimmune disease also increased the risk of generalized anxiety disorder. Certain demographic factors and health behaviors were associated with both autoimmune diseases and generalized anxiety disorder but did not explain the association between them. This study clarified the two-way nature of the association between autoimmune diseases and mental disorders. If the underlying neurobiological, genetic and psychological mechanisms are identified in the future, the results may be used in clinical practice.