Mental and physical health are often considered entirely separate; however, it is becoming clear that the two are a lot closer linked than previously thought – with mental health often causing problems with physical health, and vice versa.
Recent studies have found that poor physical health can cause us to suffer with poor mental health, whilst mental health conditions can increase the risk of a number of physical health conditions – however, the two are still commonly considered entirely separate during both diagnosis and treatment.
With the understanding that mental and physical health often go hand in hand, how is our mental health affected by our physical health and vice versa?
How your Mental Health Affects your Physical Health
Poor mental health can impact your physical health in a number of different ways, including; weakening your immune system as well as affecting your ability to fight off chronic diseases and to make healthy choices – for example about diet or exercise.
If left untreated deteriorating mental health can be the catalyst in a number of life-threatening illnesses, whilst those suffering with both poor mental and physical health can find themselves in an unavoidable circle of one triggering the other. Recent studies have linked depression, as well as other mental health issues, with a number of serious physical health problems such as;
- Gastronomical complaints – many people who suffer with poor mental health often complain of stomach issues including nausea or IBS-type symptoms, particularly when stress or anxiety levels rise.
- Heart Disease – recent studies have found that those suffering with poor mental health, particularly depression or anxiety, have a significant increased risk of heart disease.
- Obesity – taking care of yourself whilst suffering with depression often falls down your list of priorities with poor diet and lack of exercise being a common side-effect of poor mental health. An increased period of lessened activity and an un-balanced diet can lead to weight gain, and eventually obesity.
- Asthma – studies have found that those who suffer with asthma are more likely to also suffer with a mental health condition, particularly as children, however it is not yet known whether asthma is a catalyst in poor mental health, or if it is the other way around.
- High Blood Pressure – like heart disease, high blood pressure is linked to a number of mental health conditions – specifically depression and anxiety. High blood pressure can eventually lead to heart attack and heart disease, making it a priority to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
- Insomnia – a high number of mental health conditions cause the sufferer to experience insomnia and sleep a lot less, this in turn can further worsen other symptoms of poor mental health.
- Aches, Pains and Chronic Fatigue – abnormal function of neurotransmitters in the brain can cause aches and pains throughout the body, as well as causing chronic fatigue.
How Physical Health Affects your Mental Health
As with mental health affecting your physical health, it is not uncommon to experience it the other way around. Poor physical health – particularly extended periods of illness or recovery after a serious injury – can cause of number of different mental issues during or after your experience.
- Serious Injury – serious injury can affect your mental health in a number of ways – particularly if the injury leaves you out of action for an extended period of time. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues after a serious injury, with low self-esteem often playing a large role, whilst those who suffered injury due to an accident can find themselves struggling with the symptoms of PTSD.
- Heart Attack – anxiety often causes our heart to race and those of us suffering with depression are commonly found to have higher blood pressure than those who don’t. High blood pressure is a common catalyst in heart disease and those in recovery from a heart attack are also at higher risk of developing depression.
- Long-Term Illness – health conditions such as cancer can be extremely detrimental towards your mental health, particularly during treatment when your physical health often lowers even further as medicines fight the disease. Diagnosing a mental health condition when you’re undergoing cancer treatment can be very difficult as many of the symptoms of depression (chronic fatigue, change in appetite, aches and pains or lack of energy) are the side effects of medications.
- Chronic Illness – Fibromyalgia, ME, Asthma, Crohn Disease and Diabetes, for example, are all long-term illnesses that can cause a number of physical health problems over an extended period of time. Those suffering with long-term chronic illnesses are more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety as well as a number of other mental health conditions including panic disorder and PTSD.
If you find yourself struggling after a period of illness, or a serious injury, therapy could be the key to help you recover from your ordeal and learn to deal with the differences in your daily life. Here at My Online Therapy we offer a wide range of therapies for mental health, covering a spectrum of conditions. If you feel that your mental health isn’t as healthy as you’d like it to be, online therapy is a great way to get back on the road to feeling like yourself again without disrupting your schedule or rearranging your day – it can take place in the comfort of your own home and at a time that suits you. Visit our site to learn more about how we could help you with your mental health condition.