Mental health is often viewed as a separate issue from physical health, but the two are actually interconnected. When someone is struggling with their mental health, it often takes a toll on their physical health. To maintain both our mental and physical health, it’s important to be proactive and seek help for any mental health issues we may be experiencing.
In this article, we will explore why mental health matters to physical health and how they’re interconnected.
The Link Between Mental Health & Physical Health
It is not uncommon for someone with a mental illness to also struggle with some form of chronic illness or pain. Someone struggling with depression, for example, has twice the risk of also experiencing fibromyalgia compared to the general population. When someone is experiencing a mental health issue, it can manifest in physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomach pain.
There are two main reasons for this link between mental and physical health: 1) Mental illnesses can make it difficult for someone to take care of themselves, which includes treating their medical conditions, and 2) There is a connection between our emotions and how our body reacts physically.
The Link Between Mental Illness & Physical Illness
When someone is experiencing a mental illness, it can make it difficult to take care of themselves and their health. There are several reasons why:
They may not recognize that they’re unwell: Someone struggling with their mental health might think that they’re perfectly fine and refuse treatment. This can lead to worsening symptoms and the development of more serious conditions. For example, someone who thinks they aren’t depressed or anxious might not seek treatment until it develops into a severe mental illness.
They may lack motivation: Someone with a mental illness may have difficulty getting motivated to do anything, including going to the doctor or taking care of their health. This lack of motivation can also hold them back from seeking help for their mental illness, which causes it to worsen and develop into a more serious condition.
They may not have insurance: The cost of going to the doctor or being treated can be prohibitive for someone who is struggling with their mental health. They might not have insurance or the money to pay out-of-pocket for medications and treatment, making getting better difficult.
They may not have transportation: Not having a way to get to and from appointments and treatments can make it very difficult for someone with a mental illness to be proactive about their health. Many people who are already struggling with mental illness have low incomes, which makes owning a car difficult.
They might not have the cognitive awareness to know what’s going on: Someone with a mental illness might also struggle with cognitive problems that make it difficult for them to recognize that anything is wrong. They may not understand how their emotions affect their bodies and why they’re struggling physically, making it difficult to seek help.
So What Can You Do?
It is important that people struggling with mental illness take proactive measures to maintain a healthy lifestyle and seek treatment for their medical conditions. A few tips include:
Visit the corresponding health professional regularly: When you take care of your mental health, it will positively impact your physical health. Make sure that you are seeing the right health professional for your needs. For example, for those suffering from weight and body image issues, visiting a bulimia nervosa treatment facility or something similar can prove to be very helpful.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise is a great way for someone to improve their physical health, just like it can help cope with depression. Exercise can help develop cardiovascular fitness, which helps with stress management, and it has also been proven to improve the immune system.
Eat healthily: The food that someone eats can have a huge impact on their mental health. Eating unhealthily, such as not eating enough fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, can develop medical conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It can also make someone feel sluggish and tired, worsening their mental health.
Take medications as prescribed: Many people struggling with mental health don’t take their medications as prescribed because that might mean they have to admit to having a mental illness. However, taking medications as prescribed helps them work as they’re supposed to and improve their quality of life.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and they are interconnected. When someone is struggling with their mental health, it often takes a toll on their physical health as well. It’s important to be proactive in both areas by seeking help for mental health issues and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.