Psychology and Your Health


  • 4 If you have recently received a new medical diagnosis, you may be finding it challenging to adjust to new health realities you are facing. For example, worry, hurt or anger are some of the feelings patients experience as they struggle to understand the requirements of ongoing treatment and changes to their lifestyle.
  • 4 You may find that you will be need to make lifestyle changes, including to diet, exercise, and to medication management related to a medical condition. Even your work-life balance, and your relationship to family and friends may be altered.
  • 4 Some patients experience frustration as they struggle to understand and get the most out of their medical care in an increasingly complex medical system.
  • 4 Some patients fall into grey areas of medicine, where a diagnosis, or a clear course of treatment is uncertain.
  • 4 Depression and/or anxiety are common reactions related to a medical diagnosis
  • 4 Having a spouse, child or other family member affected by a medical condition, including new or changing care-taking responsibilities for the family member can also be a source of stress, and can take a toll.

Mind Affects Body, Body Affects Mind


  • 4 As much as 85% of physician visits are for problems that have a significant psychological and/or behavioral component, such as chronic illnesses. For example, research has shown a connection between depression and osteoporosis and even cancer (Stress Found to Weaken Resistance to Illness Washington Post, Dec. 22, 2003).
  • 4 Mental and behavioral health care plays a significant role in the prevention of the 15 leading causes of death in the United States. Including heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, diabetes, kidney and liver disease, hypertension, accidents, suicide, assault/homicide (Center for Disease Control, 2005)
  • 4 Thoughts, attitudes, and emotions can accelerate the onset of heart disease, as well as get in the way of taking positive steps to improve one’s health. (American Psychological Association, 2004)
  • 4 Individuals with diabetes are twice as likely as individuals without diabetes to have serious psychological distress (McVeight, et al, 2003).
  • 4 Depression is prevalent in approximately 20% of cancer patients and may impede treatment and recovery. Children and caregivers of cancer patients may also suffer with depression (NIH, 2009).
  • 4 A study of patients with heart disease found that psychological interventions can reduce the risk of further cardiac events by 75% compared to those given only medical care and medication (Sobel, 2000).
  • 4 Psychological interventions centered around positive health behaviors are associated with lower cholesterol levels and healthier blood pressure and body weight in elderly patients (Fries et al., 1993).
  • 4 Hospitals that integrated psychology into primary care showed a 27% reduction in hospital admissions and bed days over a twelve-year period (Health Partners Study, 1997).
  • 4 Eighty-eight percent (88%) of the public, in a national survey, believe that mental health services should be available to everyone and that their health care system should treat the entire person including one’s mental well-being. (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 1999).
  • 4 Ninety percent (90%) of those surveyed believe that good psychological health plays a role in maintaining good physical health (Penn & Schoen poll, May 1995).
  • 4 The provision of psychological services to high frequency Medicaid users resulted in a 36% reduction in their Medicaid utilization after one year (Pallak, et al., 1995).


As cited by the American Psychological Association