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This post is a guest post by Ralph Macey.
Ralph Macey is associated with the SavantCare which is a mental health clinic, where his job is to look after those people who are suffering from chronic mental disorders. His motto is to focus on the integrated interventions to improve mental health conditions and the other alternative approaches to healing.
How your mental health can harm your physical health
‘Mind’ and ‘body’ are two different things that may decide how much activity you can be in daily life. But if you are talking about mental health and physical health, these two can not be considered as two different subjects.
People often ignore the connection between their mental health and physical health. They’re most of the time considered as different entities, but originally both of them work parallelly.
The World Health Organization also considered health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.
The misconception which creates the division between “mind” and “body” also trigger another wrong concept, that mental illness is never connected to a physical disease.
“But we have really come to learn that that’s not the case,” added Dr. David Gitlin, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Psychosomatic Medicine and clinical vice chair at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “These factors are certainly important, but there is also something physiological that’s happening.”
Data source – Time.com
So, mental health definitely has a direct impact on your physical health.
Most common people do not know much about common mental illness. But that doesn’t reduce the number of mental patients in our country.
The fact is 1 in every 5 individuals is suffering from serious mental illness per year.
Mental illness has different signs, symptoms, and problems that may cause you a distorted behavior.
These are the problems that may arise due to mental illness:
- Eating disorders
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Dissociative disorders
- Heavy anxiety or panic
- Severe depression
- Bipolar depression
- Trauma and stress-related behaviors
- Somatic symptoms and related disorders
- Sleep-wake disorders
- Substance-oriented and addictive disorders
- Neurocognitive Disorders
Now, these mental health conditions may affect your physical health negatively. How? Let me explain it to you.
How mental health affects physical health
There are numerous ways your mental health can affect your physical health. Let’s have an eye on these facts:
People who are suffering from the highest levels of distress were 32% more prone to cancer. Apart from that depression and anxiety are also the two main catalysts which may increase the risk of coronary heart disease in an individual.
Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can trigger psychological and physical issues, apart from psoriatic arthritis.
Dr. Gitlin added – “We know that high levels of cortisol are associated with depression, and we know that they can contribute to an inflammatory state and to conditions like diabetes and heart disease.”
He also added – “Researchers are starting to look at anti-inflammatory agents to see if they can be helpful in treating both types of conditions, We know inflammation is the singular common thread, and we’re getting better at figuring out new ways to target it.”
If you talk about Schizophrenia, it may double the risk of death from heart disease at any point in time. Also, it increases respiratory disease which may cost you good health.
A similar situation happens with people who are dealing with other mental disorder.
Poor mental health can definitely impact on your health and make it difficult for fighting off chronic diseases. As a result, your mental health will open the gateway for more serious health disorders like:
- Poor immunity power
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Gastronomical issues
- Blood sugar
Depression is the most dangerous mental disorder that may trigger fatigue, insomnia and makes you highly sensitive to aches and pains.
In most of the cases, people look out for a professional who can cure their mental health disorders, only after an unfortunate event has happened.
As per a 2016 study conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center, less than 1 out of 3 Americans under depression choose treatment for their symptoms.
But actually, people should opt for the help early and prevent mental health conditions, similar to anxiety, depression, and others.
As per statistics, mental health patients are less likely to get routine health check-ups like blood sugar, blood pressure, height-weight, and cholesterol.
Mental health patients are also not interested to leave a few bad habits that may harm their physical health, like – smoking, drinking, and taking drugs for the sake of getting relief from stress.
Mental and physical illnesses can reveal multiple symptoms such as too much food cravings and low energy levels. With an increased food intake, your physical activity will be low and it may cause weight gain.
So, what you can do to get out of this mess. Yes, I can give you a few tips on that as well!
How can you create a healthy mind and a healthy body?
To improve your mental health you must take care of your physical health as well.
Though your family doctor might have prescribed you an antidepressant and she certainly means well ( as she’s the best-qualified doctor to treat depression), you still need to take care of your physical health to get the best possible result.
You might need to make changes in your lifestyle so that it can influence the state of both your physical and mental health. Here I am going to tell you how:
a. Exercise well every day
Any kind of physical activity is a great way to maintain your physical health as well as improving your mental situation.
Research says exercising every day can release chemicals called endorphins in your brain.
Even if you have a short 10 minutes brisk walking, it may alert your brain by some degrees. You’ll feel more energetic and enhance your positive mood.
“Exercise is something that psychologists have been very slow to attend to,” added Michael Otto, Ph.D., a Boston University psychology professor. “People know that exercise helps physical outcomes. There is much less awareness of mental health outcomes – and much, much less ability to translate this awareness into exercise action.”
Regular exercising will improve your body movement by using your muscles and increase stamina.
If you don’t have the time to work out daily, you can also do your garden or walk for 10 minutes, even these can significantly affect your health quality.
So, if possible start exercising every day.
b. Start eating a healthy diet
Good nutrition is essential for our body as well as our mind. It’ll influence the way we feel our environment.
A proper, healthy diet consists of healthy amounts of proteins, vitamins, essential fats, minerals, carbohydrates, and water.
When you maintain such a balanced diet, it may influence your health development, as well as manages and prevents multiple mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer’s. So, eat healthily and stay healthy.
c. Maintain a normal sleep timing
Not having enough sleep might trigger depression, anxiety, and stress. An average adult needs seven or more hours of sleep per night. If you’re not having that much sleep and staying awake most of the time, it might increase your fatigue all over the day.
If you are always tired, your mind will also don’t react to anything good or positive. You’ll become restless and angry pretty much on every casual thing. To get out of this situation, you need to sleep well at night. So, how about doing the following:
- Try to stay relaxed before sleep.
- Stop having caffeine before sleep, coffee is bad for your sleep.
- Do not eat heavy food at dinner
- Do not smoke just before going to bed
- Listen to soft music
- Try to avoid reading books
d. Try to quit smoking or reduce it
Smoking is very bad for both mental and physical health. People having mental health problems believe that smoking can heal their symptoms, but practically it causes more damage.
People having depression normally smoke twice as much as a normal adult can smoke. People suffering from schizophrenia smoke more, probably thrice compared to other people.
Why people with mental issues are so much obsessed with smoking? I’ll tell you why.
Smoking releases nicotine which reacts with our brain chemicals. The human brain has “Dopamine” which influences positive feelings, and lack of “Dopamine” may cause depression.
Nicotine temporarily increases the levels of dopamine, but also stops the brain’s natural production of “Dopamine”. In the long term, the human brain requires more and more nicotine to gain that positive feeling, and people become addicted to smoking.
Apart from that, smoking also leaves tar in human lungs, which increases the chance of bronchitis, and also trigger the chances of cancer. So, smoking is also equally harmful to your body.
If you are also feeling signs of any mental health issues, it is important that you should call a professional and take advice from him. Apart from that, if you want to be mentally happy, eat right and exercise well. Discuss with a medical expert, and find out what’s best for you.
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