People who have poor mental health are at greater risk of their physical health also deteriorating, and vice versa. This is because our mental and physical health are very much interconnected, with them both having an influence on each other… So much so, in fact, that nearly one in three people with a long-term physical health condition also have a mental health problem, most often, depression or anxiety.
An example of the effect of mental ill health on our physical health can be seen in cases of Depression, whereby people tend to lack motivation to do even the basic things that one needs to do to stay physically well, such as partaking in regular exercise, eating healthily, and drinking an adequate amount of water (as just three examples.)
Failing to look after oneself when dealing with a mental illness by neglecting the basics, (as outlined above), can lead to unpleasant physical symptoms being experienced, such as fatigue, insomnia, and excessive weight gain/weight loss.
Furthermore, people with Depression or other mental health problems might also turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms in an attempt to manage their challenging thoughts, such as by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, smoking, taking drugs, and/or self-harm (again, just a few examples of ways in which one’s physical health might be negatively impacted by their mental health.)
In contrast, an example of the effect of physical ill health on our mental health can be seen in the disabled community, whereby one’s lack of mobility can cause them to feel isolated and can have a big impact on their overall self-esteem. This can be a major contributor to the development of several mental health problems, such as Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, and OCD.
Whilst having a physical illness is not a guarantee for the development of a mental illness, and nor is having a mental illness a guarantee for the onset of a physical illness, the likelihood of a dual diagnosis occurring is increased. Why? Because, as mentioned previously, our mental and physical health are very much interconnected. What’s more, our genetics are also often ‘to blame’, as some people are just predisposed to develop health problems that are both mental and physical.
It is therefore paramount that we all make looking after our health a priority, to ensure that neither our mental state or our physical state have to suffer as a result.
So, make sure that you’re;
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a balanced diet
- Engaging in things that bring you joy/bring a sense of purpose to your days
- Staying connected to your loved one’s
- Taking time to rest
The latter point, ‘taking time to rest’, being particularly important, although often neglected in today’s fast-paced world.
Remember; you can’t run a car on empty, so you shouldn’t try to run yourself on empty, either.
Look after yourself, both mentally and physically, for, if you neglect one area of your health, the other will soon follow.