alexa A healthy mind makes a healthy body in teens

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A healthy mind makes a healthy body in teens

Happier youths are also healthier youths, according to new research. Adolescents' positive emotions and moods, as well as their satisfaction with life, could be more important than their anxiety or depression levels for predicting their physical health, they argue. To date, the majority of the research looking at the relationship between mental health and physical health in young people has focused primarily on how symptoms of poor mental health, or psychopathology, such as anxiety and depression, relate to physical functioning. This approach fails to take into account the potential influence of positive indicators of mental health, such as positive emotions and mood states and life satisfaction, known as subjective well-being. Shaffer-Hudkins' study is the first to look at both positive and negative indicators of mental health in relation to physical health in a sample of 401 students in grades 6-8 from a suburban southeastern middle school in the United States. The teenagers rated their satisfaction with life, whether they had recently felt excited, strong and proud (positive affect) as well as lonely, guilty and sad (negative affect). They were also asked about feeling withdrawn, anxious and depressed and about delinquent and aggressive behavior (all indicators of psychopathology). Finally, they told researchers about their physical health. Overall, perceived good physical health was strongly linked to life satisfaction and feeling excited, strong and proud. Those who said they felt lonelier, guiltier, more anxious and depressed and who were more likely to display undesirable behaviors reported being less healthy physically. More specifically, mental health indicators explained 30 percent of the difference in physical health ratings and four out of the five mental health indicators were unique predictors of physical health. Positive affect in particular had the greatest effect.

 
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