Mind and body are inseparable. There cannot be one without the other. But just how connected are they? Can your mental health affect your physical health? How? To what extent?
The mental health kaleidoscope
Not all mental health conditions are created equal. Therefore, not all of them will affect the body the same way. It is also possible that some of these disorders will not affect the body as much as others. Some might even have negligible effects on the patient’s physical health.
Another important distinction to make, is that it could be difficult to tell exactly how certain mental health conditions might affect the body because:
- Not every body will react the same way to different kinds of ailments
- People might conflate side effects from medication used to treat mental health conditions, with an impact on their physical health due to the disorder they are being treated for
- On the other hand, there could be physical ailments that were going to show up regardless of the mental health condition of a patient, but showed up after the mental health disorder manifested itself
Separating wheat from chaff
Keeping all of the above in mind, it is useful to focus on some broad physical effects that are corelated with mental health disorders. Most of these effects are preventable, non-communicable diseases like:
- Heart conditions
- Digestive problems
- Appetite issues
Which kind of mental health disorder can have an effect on your body?
In some cases, like depression and anxiety, the physical effects might be more evident. Mental health disorders can alter your behavioral patterns. People who are depressed, for instance, might find it more difficult to find the motivation to exercise or eat properly. This may result in the development of obesity and cardiovascular issues.
Anxiety attacks can affect your digestive system. This could also lead to longer-term issues. Anxious eaters for example, could find themselves putting on some weight, which will harm their cardiovascular system, and even their joints.
Beyond behavioral pattern alteration, anxiety and depression have different physical effects on your body that you will not be able to notice at a glance. Hormonal imbalance and inflammation are two of the most common physical effects that depression or anxiety might have.
Anxious people for example, might have elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol, which is also known as the “stress hormone”, is involved is a crucial component of our “fight or flight” response. But when anxiety causes constant stimulus of the adrenal glands, too much cortisol goes into the system. This could cause:
- Higher blood sugar levels
- Increased blood pressure
- Immune deficiencies
Spiraling out of control
Physical health problems that arise from mental health disorders, can serve to reinforce the original disorder.
Imagine a person who suffers from depression. They feel their energy is sapped, so they stay in bed and eat less. That in turn could affect their fatigue further and reinforce their depression symptoms.
Your physical health can therefore affect your mental health as well. This means that you can flip the problem on its head. If you take care of your physical health, you might be able to ameliorate your mental health disorder in the process. The following can help you with your general health, be it mental or physical:
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Breathing and relaxation techniques
- Avoid, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs
Take care of your mental health and physical health together
Seeing a GP while you are being treated for a mental health disorder can also contribute to the success of your treatment. That is one of the advantages of our platform here at Antidote Health. With the right healthcare plan, we can help you with your mental health as well as your physical health. We can even grant you access to dietitians who can help you design a balanced diet that will suit you well.
Contact us today and see how we can help you with both body and mind.