Here's How Your Mental Health Affects Your Body

We often think of mental and physical health as two separate issues that both affect our overall well-being but hardly affect each other. But in reality, the way you feel — about yourself and about the world around you — can potentially have a huge impact on your body. 

Drs. Kelly Rothe and Jeffrey Polgar of Mountain Medical Arts, as well as the rest of the team at our office in Burnsville, North Carolina, want to help you have the best overall health possible. In fact, your mental state can highly affect your physical one, as you’ll see below.

Mental health and physical health: A combined effort

According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, people with high levels of depression and anxiety were also more likely than others to develop physical problems, such as stroke, hypertension, arthritis, or heart conditions. In fact, the effects of these mental health issues were just as strongly associated with poor physical health as smoking and obesity.

In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health states that those with depression have been found to experience changes in their physiological (body) makeup over time that can potentially lead to serious physical problems down the road. These can include: 

Depression can also cause changes to the way the body controls basic functions such as heart rate and blood circulation.

Reasons poor mental health may affect the body

There are a couple of clear ways mental health can contribute to bodily neglect or harm, including avoiding medical treatment or having problems with substance abuse. 

Reluctance to get treatment

People who struggle with mental health issues are less likely to seek the help they need for a physical problem than those who do not. This can be an issue of fear, discomfort with the entire process of going to see a doctor (especially if you have been uncomfortable with your mental health treatment in the past), or simply an inability to see beyond your mental health problems. If you don’t attend regular checkups at the doctor’s office that allow for blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, and other checks, you might not even know it if something is wrong with you physically until the effects become severe.  

Substance abuse related to mental health issues

Sadly, one of the most common and deadliest problems among sufferers of mental illnesses is addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around half of those who suffer from mental health problems will develop a substance use disorder. 

Abusing drugs and alcohol is extremely detrimental to the human body, but those who suffer from mental illnesses often turn to these substances in order to self-medicate. This can easily lead to intensified mental and physical health problems.

Mental and physical health are linked

Mental health issues can affect your body is because they are both part of one whole: you. When you’re suffering from mental health issues, you may not feel like taking care of your body. But if something’s wrong with one aspect of your mind or body, more problems will tend to follow because your mental and physical health affect another.

We can help with your mental and physical health

If you’re struggling with overwhelming stress, difficult emotions, or a mental health issue, it can help to discuss these with Drs. Rothe and Polgar. We would be happy to help you arrange a meeting with a counselor as well, if you so desire.

Call 828-263-6681 to make an appointment at our office Monday through Friday, or you can request an appointment online at your convenience. 

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