The natural history of psychosomatic symptoms and their association with psychological symptoms: Observations from the Population Study of Women in Gothenburg

Department of Primary Health Care, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.
The European Journal of General Practice (Impact Factor: 1.22). 02/2007; 13(2):60-6. DOI: 10.1080/13814780701377497
Source: PubMed


To study the prevalence of subjective unspecified psychological symptoms (UPS) in a cohort of middle-aged women and the development of psychosomatic symptoms over 24 years.
In 1968-1969, 1462 randomly selected women, aged 38, 46, 50, 54 and 60, were recruited. A 24-year follow-up was performed in 1992-1993 (n=836). The same structured interview concerning psychological and psychosomatic symptoms was used on both occasions.
The prevalence of UPS was 28% in 1968-1969 and 20% in 1992-1993. Women with UPS in 1968-1969 were significantly more likely to have asthma/obstructive symptoms (34% vs 26%), headache (38% vs 22%) and abdominal symptoms (40% vs 21%), but not hypertension/high blood pressure (28% vs 28%), than women who did not report UPS. In 1992-1993, women with UPS in 1968-1969 were significantly still more likely to have asthmatic (25% vs 18%) and abdominal symptoms (44% vs 33%). Sixty-one per cent of women with UPS in 1968-1969 did not report such symptoms in 1992-1993, compared to 86% of women without UPS in 1968-1969 (p<0.001).
Women reporting UPS seemed to have a higher frequency of simultaneous psychosomatic symptoms than women not reporting UPS. However, having UPS was apparently unassociated with the development of psychosomatic symptoms over time. Psychosomatic symptoms in women seem to be self-limiting and decrease with time.

2 Reads
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The number of people with dementia has increased dramatically with global ageing. Nevertheless, the pathogeneses of these diseases are not sufficiently understood. The present study aims to analyse the relationship between psychological stress in midlife and the development of dementia in late-life. A representative sample of females (n = 1462) aged 38-60 years were examined in 1968-69 and re-examined in 1974-75, 1980-81, 1992-93 and 2000-03. Psychological stress was rated according to a standardized question in 1968, 1974 and 1980. Dementia was diagnosed according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria based on information from neuropsychiatric examinations, informant interviews, hospital records and registry data. During the 35-year follow-up, 161 females developed dementia (105 Alzheimer's disease, 40 vascular dementia and 16 other dementias). We found that the risk of dementia (hazard ratios, 95% confidence intervals) was increased in females reporting frequent/constant stress in 1968 (1.60, 1.10-2.34), in 1974 (1.65, 1.12-2.41) and in 1980 (1.60, 1.01-2.52). Frequent/constant stress reported in 1968 and 1974 was associated with Alzheimer's disease. Reporting stress at one, two or three examinations was related to a sequentially higher dementia risk. Compared to females reporting no stress, hazard ratios (95% confidence intervals) for incident dementia were 1.10 (0.71-1.71) for females reporting frequent/constant stress at one examination, 1.73 (1.01-2.95) for those reporting stress at two examinations and 2.51 (1.33-4.77) at three examinations. To conclude, we found an association between psychological stress in middle-aged women and development of dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease. More studies are needed to confirm our findings and to study potential neurobiological mechanisms of these associations.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2010 · Brain
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study aims to evaluate perceived lifetime stress (LS), perceived stress during pregnancy (PS), chronic hypertension (CH) and their joint association with preeclampsia risk. This study includes 4,314 women who delivered a singleton live birth at the Boston Medical Center from October 1998 through February 2008. CH was defined as hypertension diagnosed before pregnancy. Information regarding LS and SP was collected by questionnaire. Preeclampsia was diagnosed by clinical criteria. LS, SP and CH were each associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia (OR(95%CI)=2.1(1.6-2.9) for LS; 1.7(1.3-2.2) for SP; 10.4(7.5-14.4) for CH). Compared to normotensive pregnancy with low LS, both normotensive pregnancy with high LS (2.1(1.6-2.9)) and pregnancy with CH and low LS (10.2(7.0-14.9)) showed an increased risk of preeclampsia, while pregnancy with high LS and CH yielded the highest risk of preeclampsia (21.3(10.2-44.3)). The joint association of SP and CH with preeclampsia was very similar to that of the joint association of LS and CH with preeclampsia. This finding indicates that high psychosocial stress and CH can act in combination to increase the risk of preeclampsia up to 20-fold. This finding underscores the importance of efforts to prevent, screen and manage CH, along with those to reduce psychosocial stress, particularly among women with CH.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2013 · American journal of obstetrics and gynecology