The connection between mental health and physical health is a complex and intricate one. The two are interdependent, and poor mental health can have a significant impact on physical health, and vice versa.
When we experience stress, anxiety, or depression, our bodies respond by releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can have negative effects on our physical health over time, leading to problems such as high blood pressure, headaches, digestive issues, and chronic pain.
Studies have shown that people with mental health disorders are more likely to suffer from chronic physical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
On the other hand, poor physical health can also lead to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Research shows that people with mental health problems are more likely to have a preventable physical health condition such as heart disease.
This can be for a variety of reasons, including:
People suffering from mental illnesses are less likely to have routine exams (such as blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol) that could discover indicators of physical health disorders early.
Furthermore, mental health issues might manifest as physical symptoms. Because our bodies and minds are not distinct, it is not surprising that mental illness can impair your physical health. Depression can cause headaches, exhaustion, and digestive issues, while anxiety might cause an unsettled stomach. Insomnia, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating are some of the other symptoms.
Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, sleep, etc play a crucial role in both mental and physical health. By taking care of both our mental and physical health, we can achieve optimal well-being and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Understanding the links between mind and body is the first step in developing strategies to reduce the incidence of co-existing conditions and support those already living with mental illnesses and chronic physical conditions.
Having a mental health problem doesn’t mean it’s inevitable that you will develop a physical health problem. There are things you can do to give yourself the best chance of staying physically well:
Physical activity is an excellent strategy to maintain physical health while also enhancing mental wellness. Exercising causes the brain to release feel-good chemicals called endorphins, according to research. Even 10 minutes of brisk walking can increase your mental sharpness, energy, and attitude.
Eating correctly can enhance your overall health and mood. A healthy diet comprises enough amounts of proteins, vital fats, complex carbs, vitamins, minerals, and water. The food we eat has been shown to have an impact on the development, management, and prevention of a variety of mental health problems, including depression and dementia.
Smoking hurts both mental and physical health. Many people with mental health problems believe that smoking relieves their symptoms, but these effects are only short-term. It’s never too late to quit, and there is now a lot of support available to help you give up.
Feeling thirsty? Have a glass of water. It keeps you hydrated, and it’ll help your mind stay focused. When you’re dehydrated it’s hard for your brain to concentrate. You’re also more likely to have a headache.
The health of your arteries and veins is important to your heart health but it is also critical for brain health. Get your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checked regularly and take steps to keep your numbers within a normal range.
Your brain is similar to a muscle — you need to use it or lose it. There are many things that you can do to keep your brain in shape, such as doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku, reading, playing cards, or putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
Sleep plays an important role in your brain health. Some theories state that sleep helps clear abnormal proteins in your brain and consolidates memories, which boosts your overall memory and brain health. Consecutive sleep gives your brain the time to consolidate and store your memories effectively.
If you’re worried about your physical health, or you’ve been invited for a routine check or screening, make an appointment to see your GP.
If you find it hard to talk to healthcare professionals or are worried you won’t be listened to, you could bring someone to help you assert yourself. This could be a friend, relative or professional advocate.
To conclude, the connection between mental health and physical health is undeniable. The two are intertwined, and one can significantly impact the other. It is essential to take care of both our mental and physical health through lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, sleep, etc. By doing so, we can achieve optimal well-being and enjoy a higher quality of life.