- Effects on Physical Health
- Related Physical Conditions
- How to Improve Mental Health
Mental health issues not only affect you emotionally but also physically. Stress, anxiety, and depression can make you more prone to developing chronic diseases and other physical problems. For example, mental health conditions are often linked to:
- Digestive problems
- High blood pressure
- Lowered immunity
- Heart disease
- Worsened health conditions
When your body is faced with a stressful situation, such as danger or fear, it releases two hormones: adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones temporarily raise your heart rate and blood pressure. Persistently high levels of stress can therefore lead to high blood pressure and affect the digestive system as well as the immune system.
Mental health issues can also lead to physical problems because of:
- Lack of motivation. Some mental health issues, such as depression, can make you less motivated to take care of yourself.
- Lack of focus and impaired memory. Loss of focus on your physical health can make you less likely to keep up with the medical appointments or take medications on time.
What physical health conditions are affected by mental health issues?
- Diabetes. According to some studies, people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are 2-3 times more likely to develop diabetes.
- Heart disease. Heart diseases are 2-3 times more common in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
- Sleep issues. About 50%-80% of people with mental health issues experience trouble staying or falling asleep. Insomnia increases the risk of hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, obesity, diabetes, weakened immune system, lower fertility rates, decreased brain function, and memory loss.
- Substance abuse. People with mental health conditions are more likely to develop addictions to alcohol, smoking, and recreational drugs.
What are signs and symptoms of mental health issues?
There is a wide range of mental health issues, each with their own unique signs and symptoms and each can only be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. Generally speaking, however, common signs of mental health issues include:
- Constantly feeling down
- Inability to think clearly
- Inability to stay focused
- Decreased attention span
- Excessive worrying
- Lack of interested in being with family and friends
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Sex drive changes
- Excessive anger
- Frequent violent episodes
- Suicidal tendency
9 effective ways to boost mood and improve mental health
While many make a conscious effort to take care of their physical health, it can be easy to forget that taking care of your mental health is equally important. Here are a few ways to manage stress and prevent it from taking a toll on your physically:
- Find ways to relax: Find ways to refresh your mind and unwind, whether that’s taking a long walk outside or a warm bath. You can also try body massages, deep breathing techniques, meditation, tai chi, or yoga.
- Eat healthy: Stick to nutritious foods, such as whole grains and a variety of vegetables and fruits. Stay away from packaged and processed food.
- Exercise regularly: When you’re physically fit, your body is more likely to be able to fight stress effectively. Try walking, jogging, or dancing to get your body moving on a regular basis.
- Getting enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can worsen stress. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
- Spend time with family and friends: Being around people you care about can go a long way in helping you talk about your feelings and relieve stress.
- Have a good laugh: Watching your favorite comedy or TV show or anything that gives you a good laugh can help you release stress.
- Indulge in a hobby: Spend time doing something you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book, painting, gardening, listening to music, or singing, dancing. This can elevate your mood instantly.
- Stay organized: You may find it easier to manage daily stress by planning your day and practicing time-management techniques.
- Talk to a psychotherapist: Therapists can teach you how to identify stress triggers and develop ways to deal with them more effectively.
While you can certainly surf the net or scroll through social media to unwind, beware of overdoing it, since too much screen time can worsen stress in the long run.
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DE Hert M, Correll CU, Bobes J, et al. Physical illness in patients with severe mental disorders. I. Prevalence, impact of medications and disparities in health care. World Psychiatry. 2011;10(1):52-77. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048500/
Mayo Clinic. Mental illness. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/symptoms-causes/syc-20374968
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