The mind and body are often discussed separately. However, when it comes to physical health and emotional health, they should not be dealt with in separate ways.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that poor emotional health can have negative effects on physical health and vice versa.
In the past, even in organizations such as the NHS, emotional health and physical health care have been mostly disconnected. However, there is a strong belief now that this is wrong and professionals should consider the mental well-being of patients when dealing with physical conditions.
How Emotional Health Can Have an Impact on Physical Health
As more time goes by and we learn more about the connection between emotional health and physical health, it becomes increasingly hard for those who are dismissive of this belief to ignore it. In what ways can emotional health affect physical health? Below we will look at some of the common ways.
First, some interesting statistics – Depression is thought to increase the risk of dying from cancer by around 50% and the risk of dying from heart disease by 67%. While those who suffer from schizophrenia are believed to be three times more likely to die from respiratory disease and twice as likely to die from heart disease.
One of the major reasons for this is because people who have mental health issues often do not get the physical health treatment and care they are entitled to. People who use mental health services are less likely to be regularly checked for things such as cholesterol, weight and blood pressure, that can often help with early detection of symptoms of serious physical health problems.
They are often, in general, less likely to receive any offers of help with making positive dietary changes, lowering their alcohol intake and giving up smoking.
Lifestyle Factors That influence Both Emotional and Physical Health
There are numerous things that can have an impact on both your mental and physical health, including:
Not only is virtually any kind of physical exercise good for your physical health, but it is also great for your emotional health too. There have been studies that show that endorphins, also known as feel-good hormones. Endorphins are produced and released in higher quantities in the brain when you take part in physical activity.
You don’t even have to work out for very long, as just a 10 minutes power walk can put you in a positive mood while increasing your energy and alertness.
The term ‘physical exercise’ can refer to anything that involves body movement through muscle and energy use. You can improve your quality of life by doing anything from mowing and tending your garden and lawn to running in long-distance races such as marathons.
The way we feel is greatly influenced by what we eat. A healthy and balanced diet is one that consists of appropriate amounts of water, minerals, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, essential fats, and proteins. There are connections between various mental health disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Depression and the food we eat.
It is thought that changes to your diet could either help develop these conditions or help to manage or even prevent them.
Emotional Health and Long-Term Physical Conditions
As noted further on the page, when physical health conditions are dealt with it is very easy to neglect the mental health side of things. Take Psoriasis for instance. This is a condition which not only affects you in terms of physical symptoms and signs.
It also impacts your quality of life and psychological health. The condition is characterized most commonly by the appearance of red and very flaky sores on the skin’s surface.
It is an auto-immune condition and is generally caused by stress. In the UK alone it affects around 18 million people and it can have a devastating effect on their emotional and physical health.
Mental health symptoms of psoriasis include:
- Feeling annoyed and aggravated by the condition
- Suffering from depression and anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts
- Being stigmatized and rejected
- Relationship troubles with partners, friends and family members
However, it is often the case sadly that sufferers of this horrible and depressing disease do not have access to a counselor to help with the emotional and psychological effects. The two sides of the illness are very much cyclically connected. Αs the condition itself can cause emotional anxiety, which in turn can cause psoriasis to flare up more, which then, in turn, leads to further depression and anxiety. It really can be a vicious circle.
While we have just looked at an example of psoriasis, there are many others (most in fact) conditions that have physical and emotional health impacts. When you are physically ill or under the weather, you generally feel less than great from a mental point of view either. You feel helpless and a burden and this all plays havoc with your mind and psychological health.
When dealing with illness, therefore, it is important that the possible mental effects are addressed and dealt with as much as the physical pains and symptoms. After all, the brain, mind, and body are all connected, so when there are problems with one it would be ridiculous to think that the other parts were okay.
If you were unsure of the connection before reading this article or were skeptical, hopefully, we have helped to show the connection between physical and emotional health.
By Valerie S.