How Mental Health Affects Your Health ?

Don’t accept depression or any other mental disorder just because you have a chronic disease. You can still cure your chronic disease with a strong mind.

Walk through below content to know "Role Of Mental Health On The Physical Health"


Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. Moreover when we think of health, we tend to prioritize physical well-being at the expense mental health. Instead, we should tackle mental health the same way we tackle physical health with an eye towards preventing disease by addressing the foundational forces that cause us to be sick or well.

Physical health is tangible, visible as a bruise, a broken arm, a heart murmur. But mental health can easily slip under the radar. There’s nothing visible to alert you that your mental health or the health of someone you love is suffering.

Lets take a pardigm to understand this clearly. Lets start by asking yourself how you might feel towards a young boy who yells, swears, threatens people, gets kicked out of class all the time, and presents multiple other odd behaviors.  Not knowing anything about him, would you judge him and possibly contempt his behaviors? And many onlookers might view this child as a “bad seed,” so to speak, and blame the behaviour on bad or neglectful parenting. 

On flip side what if this young boy has a brain tumor that significantly jolt his ability to control his body and his emotions.  Would your opinion of him will change?  If so, how?  What kind of thoughts and feelings would you have towards him and his parents?  After all, his actions are a direct result of a life-threatening, physical illness that is beyond his control. 

Thoughts differ in both scenarios as illness with physical component i.e boy with brain tumor is accepted in the society and given sympathy & care. We forget to notice Illnesses involving the mind cannot be detected by medical tests and scans, continue to be stigmatized, leaving bystanders less understanding, less tolerant, and less accepting of the people who endure them.

It can take years to diagnose a mental illness accurately, and even then it is mostly based on observations, self-report, and response to medications and therapies.  Just because the evidence isn’t definitive, however, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  If we take time to stop and think beyond our trained thought process, our mental might eventually trump the physical.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Mental disorders such as stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt daily living, relationships, and most important physical health. WHO also emphasize that preserving and restoring mental health is crucial on an individual basis, as well as throughout different communities and societies the world over.

Hence, looking after mental health can preserve a person’s ability to enjoy life by balancing between life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience and prevent from life-changing physical health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, and chronic pain.

A 2014 study from Oxford University found that several mental illnesses can reduce life expectancy by up to 20 years, the equivalent of heavy smoking.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting an estimated 300 million people around the world. Depression is so widespread that the WHO has projected that, by 2030, it will be the leading cause of the global disease burden. 

The onset of mental illness is typically around mid-to-late adolescence and Australian youth (18-24 years old) have the highest prevalence of mental illness than any other age group.

Data from the 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey showed that one in five mothers of children aged 24 months or less had been diagnosed with depression. More than half of these mothers reported that their diagnosed depression was perinatal (that is, the depression was diagnosed from pregnancy until the child’s first birthday)

Of the 20% of Australians with a mental illness in any one year, 11.5% have one disorder and 8.5% have two or more disorders. Almost half (45%) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime

Risk factors for mental health conditions

Introduction - It is important to note that good mental health depends on a delicate balance of factors and that several elements of life and the world at large can work together to contribute to disorders.

The following factors may contribute to mental health disruptions.

1. Social And Economic pressure It is well known that mental health problems are related to deprivation, poverty, inequality and other social and economic determinants of health. Besides, belonging to a marginalized or persecuted ethnic group can increase the risk of mental health disorders. The researchers also explained availability and quality of mental health treatment for certain groups in terms of modifiable factors which will assist community to get rid of mental disorders rather than focusing on nonmodifiable factors which are permanent.

Modifiable factors for mental health disorders include:

  • occupation

  • a person’s level of social involvement

  • education

  • housing quality

Nonmodifiable factors include:

  • gender

  • age

  • ethnicity

The study lists gender as both a modifiable and nonmodifiable factor. The researchers found that being female increased the risk of low mental health status by 3.96 times. People with a “weak economic status” also scored highest for mental health conditions in this study.

2. Biological factors The NIMH suggest that genetic family history can increase the likelihood of mental health conditions such as depression or schizophrenia, as certain genes and gene variants put a person at higher risk. However, many other factors contribute to the development of these disorders so having a gene with links to a mental health disorder does not guarantee that a condition will develop. Likewise, people without related genes or a family history of mental illness can still have mental health issues.

3. Psychological and spiritual factors - Psychological and spiritual factors are also responsible for mental disorders. It includes -

  • Stressful life situations, such as financial problems or breaking the law

  • Traumatic life experiences, such as rape or serving in the armed forces

  • Low self-esteem, perceived incompetence, negative view of life

  • Poor academic achievement

  • Perception of being irredeemable or inherently flawed beyond repair

  • Perception of insignificance

  • Conflicting thoughts or doubts surrounding deep religious beliefs

Common Mental Health Disorders

The most common types of mental illness are as follows:

1. Anxiety disorders People with anxiety disorder have severe fear or anxiety, which relates to certain objects or situations. Most people with an anxiety disorder will try to avoid exposure to whatever triggers their anxiety.

Examples of anxiety disorders include:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things like money, health, family, work, or other issues. Individuals with GAD find it difficult to control their worry about the actual events or may expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern.

People might also experience physical symptoms, including

  • restlessness

  • fatigue

  • tense muscles

  • interrupted sleep

2. Panic disorders People with a panic disorder experience regular panic attacks, which involves sudden reactions and spent long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder. The situation more of overwhelming terror or a sense of imminent disaster and death.

There are different types of phobia:

Simple phobias - These might involve a disproportionate fear of specific objects, scenarios, or animals. A fear of cockroach is a common example.

Social phobia - People with social phobia often restrict their exposure to social environments.

Agoraphobia - It is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. You fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.

3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) People with OCD have obsessions and compulsions. People often double check to make sure they’ve locked the front door or always wear their lucky socks on game days i.e simple rituals or habits that make them feel more secure

4. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) PTSD can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a deeply stressful or traumatic event. During this type of event, the person thinks that their life or other people’s lives are in danger. They may feel afraid or that they have no control over what is happening. These sensations of trauma and fear may then contribute to PTSD. .

5. Mood disorders People may also refer to mood disorders as affective disorders or depressive disorders. People with these conditions have significant changes in mood, generally involving either mania, which is a period of high energy and elation, or depression. Examples of mood disorders include:

  • Major depression: An individual with major depression feel prolonged periods of sadness or extreme sadness.

  • Bipolar disorder: A person with bipolar disorder experiences unusual changes in their mood, energy levels, levels of activity, and ability to continue with daily life.

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): A reduced daylight triggers during the fall, winter, and early spring months trigger this type of major depression. It is most common in countries far from the equator.

6. Schizophrenia disorders Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling

Mental health authorities are still trying to determine whether schizophrenia is a single disorder or a group of related illnesses. It is a highly complex condition and signs of schizophrenia typically develop between the ages of 16 and 30 years. The individual will have thoughts that appear fragmented, and they may also find it hard to process information.

Mental Health Affects Physical Health

Did you know that it is just as utmost for the doctor to do a mental status exam as it is to do a physical status exam? Just like physical health, mental health can effect motivation, energy level and other daily functioning tasks.

Mental health and physical health are very closely connected. Mental health plays a paramount role in your ability to maintain good physical health. As mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, affect your ability to participate in healthy behaviors which can result in physical health issues, such as chronic diseases, and can decrease a person’s ability to participate in treatment and recovery.

Lets walk through to learn how mental health affects our physical health

Heart Disease & Depression

Nevertheless heart diseases are frightening as they are difficult to manage and can cause significant suffering and eventual death. It is for this reason that the symptoms of depression are sometimes ignored.

People with heart diseases and clinical depression actually have higher mortality rates than those who have heart disease alone. This is because depression may affect the person’s motivation to do the things that will help their medical condition. For example, they are less likely to agree to quit smoking, less likely to be proactive with pulmonary rehabilitation, and less likely to do other pro-health behaviors.

Not only does the existence of depression make the treatment of a chronic disease more challenging, but it can also have a strong negative impact on the person’s quality of life i.e something that people want to hold on to for as long as they can. So to avoid such outcomes, it is very important that the depression be treated and not ignored.

In fact, some studies show that up to 33% of people who have experienced a heart attack will develop depression at some level, and another study found that having diabetes as an adult literally doubles your chances of developing depression.

Professor David Goldberg of the Institute of Psychiatry, London, reports that the rate of depression in patients with a chronic heart disease is almost three times higher than normal. “Depression and chronic physical illness are in reciprocal relationship with one another: not only do many chronic heart illnesses cause higher rates of depression, but depression has been shown to antedate some chronic physical illnesses.”

Its wrong to interpret people who have heart diseases won’t experience any kind of emotional pain or sadness? No, they very likely will. But it’s important to remember that there are significant degrees of difference between sadness and clinical depression. One is normal and something everyone experiences in different degrees depending on what we are facing, and one is not normal and something that should be treated aggressively.

Mental Health And Weight Management

More than 80% of people with serious mental illnesses are overweight or obese and is a major factor that helps lead to a death rate 3 times that of the overall population.

Factors that contribute to obesity include unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity. This unhealthy routine has direct relation with mental disorders like depression,anxiety etc. And moreover people with serious mental illnesses may have impairments in memory and mental processes that make it more difficult for them to learn and adopt new weight loss behaviors such as counting calories.

Some research suggests that people with mental disorder are more likely to develop the metabolic syndrome that often accompanies excess weight, especially when this weight is concentrated around the waist. So people console themselves with "comfort food", which is usually high in fat, sugar, and calories because they are anxious, lonely, angry, or suffering from low self-esteem.

Additionally, overweight people are also more likely to lose the psychological benefits of exercise. If they feel rejected, unattractive, or suffer social discrimination, the emotional strain may cause further weight gain. The problem is worse if they fail to lose weight and are blamed (or blame themselves) for lack of self-control.

General Physical Health Risks

According to World Health Organization (WHO), individuals living with mental disorders are at a much higher risk for developing a number of physical health complications. People living with mental illnesses experience a range of physical symptoms that result both from the illness itself and as a consequence of treatment.

Mental illnesses can alter hormonal balances and sleep cycles, while many psychiatric medications have side-effects ranging from weight gain to irregular heart rhythms. These symptoms create an increased vulnerability to a range of physical conditions.

Mental illness releases cortisol and can have a wide range of negative effects on the body, including fatigue, muscle and body aches, headaches, digestive problems, sleep disruption, nervousness, and reduced immune function. This is because cortisol release can impact your body systems, including your respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems.

Furthermore, constant mental illness can also lead to additional and prolonged physical health issues which will impact social and cognitive function and decrease energy levels with negative impact on the adoption of healthy behaviors. People may lack motivation to take care of their health or they may adopt unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, smoke or abuse substances, as a consequence or response to their symptoms, contributing to worse health outcomes.

The health risks include both non-communicable and communicable diseases -

  • People with mental disorder have an approximately one to three times higher risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality compared to the general population.

  • People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have double the risk for diabetes compared to the general population while people with depression have 1.5 times the risk.

  • Infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and hepatitis, appear to contribute to an increased risk of death in people with mental disorder, with a risk that is four to eight times greater than that of the general population.

  • Among people with mental disorder, the median prevalence of HIV in the United States is 1.8 percent with a higher rate of 3.8 percent among inpatient populations. The overall United States adult population estimated prevalence of HIV is 0.5 percent. 

  • People living with mental illnesses often face higher rates of poverty, unemployment, lack of stable housing, and social isolation. These social factors increase the vulnerability of developing chronic physical conditions. For example, people who are unable to afford healthier food options often experience nutritional deficiencies.

  • People with serious mental illnesses have a significantly increased likelihood of developing a range of chronic respiratory conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis and asthma

  • Psoriasis is an auto-immune condition commonly triggered by stress. Patients with psoriasis who start treatment for depression or anxiety often discover that their psoriasis symptoms begin to clear up. Inversely, successful treatment of psoriasis is associated with reduced depressive signs and symptoms

  • Depression, the most common mental disorder in the United States, doesn’t just impact mood and motivation but can directly affect the immune system by suppressing T cell responses to viruses and bacteria, making it easier to get sick and stay sick for longer. A weakened immune system can also lead to a jump in the severity of allergies or asthma.

  • Mental illness is closely linked with fatigue, and that persistent tiredness can easily lead to declines in physical health. When someone is chronically depressed or anxious, they are less likely to engage in exercise and to quit early when they do. Fatigue from mental illness can also interfere with basic hygiene, increasing vulnerability to disease.

  • Stress operates by altering the magnitude of the airway inflammatory response that irritants, allergens, and infections bring about in persons with asthma


Mental health is a global concern as about 15 percent of the world’s diseases are mental illnesses., yet the level of support found in each country varies widely, and cultural factors sometimes come into play as both physical and mental health are product of the social, economic, and environmental conditions in which we live.

Many mental health challenges are likely under reported. There are a number of reasons for this. They include differences of opinion within the mental health field about the characteristics of these disorders, as well as changes to how we study them across populations and cultures. These attitudes make it likelier that many people with mental illness will remain under the radar, making it hard to accurately assess their true numbers. 

Hence, the only way to approach mental issue is eating a well-balanced diet, plenty of rest, routine check-ups and tests and incorporating regular exercise. This will eventually have positive impact on both mental and physical health.

In simple words self-care will preserve or improve your current mental state or your mental health overall. Self-care activities serve two central purposes — setting healthy boundaries and developing the ability to cope with life’s ups and downs


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