The relationship between our mental and physical health cannot be ignored. Many don’t realize that mental health plays a huge role in how healthy a person is physically. The failure to acknowledge the connections between the “mind” and “body” results in many individuals suffering from physical illnesses and mental health conditions that could potentially be prevented or managed more effectively.
The Relationship between Mental Health & Physical Health By: Miyume McKinley, LCSW
When we ignore our mental health we increase the likelihood of suffering from various illnesses including high blood pressure, gastronomical problems, a poor immune system, obesity, chronic pain, chronic fatigue and insomnia. Furthermore, poor mental health can impact life expectancy. Studies have found that individuals with mental health diagnoses (i.e., schizophrenia, depression) have a shorter life expectancy. According to the Mental Health Foundation, those diagnosed with depression have a 50 percent increased chance of dying from cancer and a 67 percent chance of dying from heart disease. Individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia are three times more likely to die from respiratory disease. In addition, depression increases the chance of death in individuals with cardiac disease. This is because untreated mental illnesses can impact how effective a person can be in caring for themselves (i.e., taking appropriate medication, being compliant with doctor’s orders). These are a few examples of why it is so important it is to take care of both your physical and mental health.
There is a wealth of research that explains the correlation between mental health and physical health. It is time we recognize the connection between the two. If you are mentally drained, stressed, or overwhelmed it is extremely difficult to make your physical health a priority. On the other hand, if you are suffering from a chronic illness, your mental health may decline due to the physical pain or constant worry about being a burden to your loved ones. This is why psychotherapy is so important. Seeing a mental health professional to address mental health challenges can improve your overall quality of life. When we break a leg we get a cast to ensure the bone heals properly. However, less people are open to seeking treatment for mental health concerns despite the fact that most visits to physicians’ offices are mental health care related. According to EAP digest, only 5% of those experiencing a mental health issue actually seek treatment by visiting a mental health professional while 95% receive treatment from their family physician as they do not recognize that their symptoms are a result of a mental health issue. This further proves the lack of understanding in the relationship between physical and mental health.
Let’s think about this on the most basic level. How do you feel mentally when you are really hungry? It impacts your ability to focus, sleep, or perform at your best. Your body responding to its need for food may cause you to feel irritable or frustrated thus impacting you mental health. Now if this is the possible response of missing a meal, imagine how your mental health could be impacted when it comes to more severe physical illnesses such as high blood pressure, kidney failure, diabetes. Another example would be an individual suffering from depression. Depression can cause an increase in appetite resulting in weight gain which could lead to obesity. Imagine if both of these individuals received treatment for their physical illness and their mental health condition. They would feel better mentally thus increasing motivation and feelings of happiness which would have a direct impact on the persons motivation in adhering to doctors recommendations. It’s time to bring awareness to the relationship between physical and mental health. The World Health Organization states, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”… “there is no health without mental health”. Both are important in ensuring we have the best quality of life possible and live life to the fullest. You deserve to be happy healthy and the best version of yourself I every way.
Los Angeles based licensed psychotherapist with over 10 years in the business, Miyume also has her own internet talk radio show entitled “Epiphany” which airs on Accelerated Radio on Saturday mornings.
Miyume developed this show in an effort to promote the importance of mental health, break the negative stigmas associated with mental health, and provide psycho education and skills to her listeners on how to handle the challenges life sometimes throws our way. Please visit http://www.epiphanyradioblog.com/ and http://www.eccts.com/team/ .
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