It’s easy to think of mental health and physical health separately, but the two are more connected than you might think. In fact, mental illnesses often have physical consequences, and numerous physical ailments can worsen mental health. Find out how mental and physical health are linked and learn tips to improve them.
Mental Health Can Impact Physical Health
Science has revealed some unique connections between mental and physical health, showing that specific mental illnesses can increase the risk of certain physical diseases. Here are some examples:
- People with depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia have an increased risk of developing heart disease.
- High levels of depression and anxiety increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, stroke, and arthritis. The heightened risk of each physical ailment is similar to that of smokers and obese patients.
- Having depression and anxiety increases the risk of dying from cancer.
- People who have depression and diabetes are more likely to have severe symptoms than those with diabetes alone.
- Stress triggers psoriasis flare-ups, and flare-ups lead to more stress, creating a vicious cycle between the mind and body.
- People living with schizophrenia have a higher risk of low bone density, increasing the chance of developing osteoporosis.
Improving Mental and Physical Health
Mental illness is not rare. Any given mental health problem can affect your body’s ability to function properly and may even reduce life expectancy. At the same time, taking poor care of your body can lead to a worsened mental state. Keep both aspects of your overall health in good shape with these tips:
- Exercise regularly: You already know that physical activity is good for your body, but it also releases feel-good chemicals into the brain to make you feel happier and more alert.
- Improve your diet: Proper nutrition is vital to promote efficient bodily functions. Eating whole foods and drinking enough water is also shown to lower anxiety and depression.
- Get adequate sleep: Your body and mind work better when you get plenty of rest. Aim for seven to nine hours of shut-eye every night.
- Seek professional help: While making healthy lifestyle choices can improve mental health, it can’t necessarily cure mental illness. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems, you may need counseling or medication.
- Treat ailments holistically: Perhaps you have physical manifestations of a mental health problem. Your mental health may also be suffering if you have a painful physical disorder. Either way, you should seek treatments that address the mind-body connection. The care you receive may be more effective and come with fewer side effects than prescriptions or surgery.
At Effective Integrative Healthcare, we practice integrated medicine, which focuses on the whole self, both mental and physical. This holistic approach promotes health and healing in a natural, effective way. To find out more about how our treatments can improve your mental and physical health, please schedule an appointment at our Crofton, Millersville, or Lanham, MD location today.