The Connection Between Mental Health and Physical Illness
Not everyone knows this, but our body can react to mental health issues and cause physical illnesses and symptoms. This can make daily life a struggle as we not only battle the mental health conditions we face but the often severe and serious physical issues that occur as a result. Many people with mental health issues also don’t receive the healthcare that they need or are entitled to like routine checks, which might detect these symptoms (both psychological and physical) earlier, allowing for proper support. But what exactly is the connection between mental health and physical illness? Read on to learn more about how our own emotions and thoughts can impact our physical wellbeing and how we can prevent or control this.
Depression and anxiety are, unfortunately, a common mental health issue that many people face. It’s estimated that globally, 300 million people suffer from depression. Not only does this impact their mental health, but it can have adverse effects on their physical wellbeing too. People with the highest levels of depression and stress were found to be 32% more likely to die from cancer. Depression has also been found to be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Schizophrenia is another mental health problem that has been associated with physical health issues. For example, it has been linked to a doubled increase in the risk of heart disease as well as tripling the risk of death from respiratory disease. Without the right help and support, schizophrenia can become out of control and lead to these debilitating health issues.
Psoriasis is a skin condition characterised by red, flaky sores on the surface of the skin, but the effects go deeper than that. It is an auto-immune disease commonly triggered by stress, affecting 1.8 million people in the UK alone. It can affect people emotionally, mentally and physically. One-third of people with psoriasis suffer from anxiety and depression with 1 in 10 even contemplating suicide.
How to Improve your Mental & Physical Health
So how can we effectively boost both our mental and physical health, to prevent either from deteriorating? Physical activity, like a long walk or exercise, can improve both your mental wellbeing and your physical health. When we exercise, endorphins (also known as the ‘happy hormones’) are boosted, elevating our mood for the rest of the day. Therefore, regular exercise can have a significant impact on depression and anxiety, alleviating symptoms for good.
As we exercise, we use our muscles and expand our energy, helping us to feel more energised during the day but sleepy at night. For people who suffer from sleeping problems due to anxiety or insomnia, exercise can be the perfect remedy.
A healthy diet is also instrumental in altering how we feel. A balanced diet of healthy fats, proteins, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water can influence the development and prevention of many different mental health conditions, like Alzheimer’s. We need to make sure we are eating the right food that makes us feel good, both physically and mentally.
By seeking out help for your mental health, you can tackle the mental health issues causing the physical conditions and illnesses or vice versa. Therapy is a popular, accessible way to improve your mental health as experts can help you to understand your mind and emotions more, and work out why you act or feel a certain way. With qualifications, experience and a desire to help others that inspires them in this field of work, they are the best people to go to, so they can help you overcome your mental health problems and focus on the health of your full body and mind.
Don’t let your mental health impact your physical health negatively. Instead, work with a therapist or doctor to overcome your symptoms and get your mind and body healthy again. To learn more about my services as a counsellor, contact me today.