The Relationship Between Mental and Physical Health

The Relationship Between Mental and Physical Health

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

The Relationship between Mental Health & Physical Health

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.


MiyumeLos 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 and .

Resources: health#sthash.61e3aJdD.dpuf

Cosgrove MP, Sargeant LA, Griffin SJ. Does depression increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Occup Med (Lond) 2008;58:7–14. doi:10.1093/ occmed/kqm105 PMID:17965449

Gonzalez JS, Safren SA, Delahanty LM, Cagliero E, Wexler DJ, Meigs JB et al. Symptoms of depression prospectively predict poorer self-care in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Diabet Med 2008;25:1102–7. doi:10.1111/j.14645491.2008.02535.x PMID:19183315

Lechnyr, R. (1993). The cost savings of mental health services. EAP Digest, 22

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10 thoughts on “The Relationship between Mental Health & Physical Health

  • This is a really interesting and thought provoking blog. I work for the NHS in the UK as an assistant psychologist and it never fails to surprise me how much people don’t realise that mental and physical health come hand in hand, side by side. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • This is so true and important. I exercised yesterday and felt so centered. Exercise give me a mental lift as well as a physical one.

  • I’m always surprised how quickly I manage to forget that my physical well being can seriously affect my mental health. I know that I will feel better if I exercise, yet I struggle to do it!

  • Wow – thanks for sharing this! I’m surprised because I didn’t know the stats on how mental health correlates with physical health. As someone who suffers from postpartum depression, it’s a little scary to think that I’m at a higher risk of getting cancer due to having depression. I guess I do need to take a little time to evaluate my health and see what I can do to continue improving it. Thanks again for this important message!

  • Several years I ago, I was seeing a therapist to help me navigate through a stressful season of life that was causing anxiety. One of the most helpful things she told me, was that I NEEDED to exercise. Now let me explain, I have no problem exercising. I workout regularly and have ran 18 marathons. But I use to feel guilty about it, thinking that I needed to be spending more time with the kids, or working more. She gave me the freedom, and I have always been grateful for that.

  • I think your right about all this for sure. When I don’t work out I feel down and I think I get sick more often than not.

  • This is so eye-opening. More people need to understand this! Such an interesting read!

  • I can totally relate to what you said about being hungry! When I am hungry I am terrible at focusing! Haha! I loved your whole post, physical and mental health are inseparably intertwined and it is so important that we never forget that!

  • Couldn’t agree with this more! It’s amazing how much the two are connected.

  • This is why self-care is so important. Physical and mental health go hand in hand. When I’m depressed, I don’t want to go out, shower, or do the dishes, When I don’t shower for a few days or go out, I start to feel depressed. We must always be on top of both in order to stay well.

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