The Role of Anxiety in Metabolic Syndrome

Aline Sardinha; Antonio E Nardi


Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. 2012;7(1):63-71. 

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Expert Commentary

As science evolves and more complex mechanisms linking psychological and physiological functioning are disclosed, it becomes mandatory to address health in a holistic manner. Once we understand how human psychophysiology functions as an integrated system, both the physiological and the psychological variables involved can be manipulated to improve the organism's homeostasis.

In other words, if metabolic and psychological disorders both play a role in cardiovascular outcomes, both issues should be considered when addressing cardiac health and designing treatment and prevention interventions. In this sense, mental health professionals should also take responsibility for addressing detectable signs of metabolic disorders, such as visceral obesity, and unhealthy behaviors, such as tabagism, sedentarism and high-fat diet.

Although it is still necessary to determine whether addressing socioeconomic and behavioral factors in people with depression or high levels of anger or hostility could reduce the burden of MS, psychosocial distress is known to be a highly modifiable risk. Interventions such as psychosocial support, psychotherapy, regular exercise, stress reduction training and psychotropic medication have been shown to alter cardiac prognosis in populations with high cardiac risk.[40]

Screening techniques are available to reliably determine if a patient is at risk for psychosocial stress-related health problems. The presence of this association indicates that the treatment of these diseases as part of secondary prevention in patients with anxiety and depression must be more rigorous and intensive than in patients without these psychiatric disorders.[19] Among individuals suffering from anxiety and/or depression, adhesion to health recommendations is a cornerstone of cardiovascular disease prevention.


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