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How Mental Health Affects Physical Health

Posted in Personal Health 07 Oct, 2015

It's World Mental Health Day on 10th October. At any one time, 4 in 10 adults are experiencing a mental health problem in the UK. This means that, every day, millions of people are struggling with the impact that a mental health condition has on their lives, work and relationships.

Mental health and physical health are certainly connected. For example, depression and anxiety can cause physical symptoms. Let's take a look.

Cardiovascular system

Anxiety produces adrenaline, which is used for fight or flight. Over the long term, excess adrenaline can speed up heart rate, tighten blood vessels and cause serious diseases such as:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack

Harvard Medical School believes that heart attack patients with depression are two to five times more likely to have a repeat episode within a year. In fact it's thought stress causes repeat episodes more frequently than smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol. There's also a 50% increased risk of death from heart disease if you suffer from schizophrenia.

Weight Problems & Digestive Issues

Mental health issues can cause under eating or binge eating, both of which affect your health. Over-eating leads to heart disease and diabetes whereas under-eating leads to lack of vitamins and muscle strength. Both may lead to IBS.

Higher Risk Of Cancer

Researchers have drawn a link between depression and cancer. It's thought to increase your risk of cancer by 50%.

Reduced Immune System

We all get colds when we're stressed. This is because stress, anxiety and depression have a negative impact on our immune systems. Without a properly functioning immune system we are vulnerable to all the seasonal nastiness.

Skin Conditions

Conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can be triggered by stress. These are visible signs that your mental health is affecting your body. This is distressing in it's own right, and may lead to further flare-ups. A cycle is then in place that is difficult to escape from.

Here are some ways to improve your whole body health.

Exercise

My keyboard is almost worn out from typing 'exercise' but it's just so important. Even walking in the fresh air will improve your mood and build fitness. We're not supposed to sit on our arses all day. Get moving for better physical AND mental health.

Diet

Processed foods just don't cut it. You need to eat fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables to improve your mental and physical health. Cutting out sugar, caffeine and fat will also help.

Meditation, Yoga or Mindfulness

Calm your mind and you calm your whole body. Cutting out stress will only have a positive impact on your whole body health.

Quit Smoking and Excess Alcohol

Boo! I hear you say. Well, if you want to be healthy and see your kids grow up you have to do it. Smoke and alcohol have negative effects on the body. That's it, no more lectures.

Physical and mental health are so linked it's practically impossible to look at them individually. When you help one you help the other. Try to look after your whole body, not just the bits you can see.

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