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The Connection Between Mental and Physical Health

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  • Written By: Frederick Health
The Connection Between Mental and Physical Health

Mental and physical health rely heavily on each other. Our minds and bodies are connected. If you have problems with one, you’re likely to have problems with the other. Research shows that those with mental health problems are more likely to have a preventable physical health condition like heart disease. This can happen due to a variety of reasons:

  • Genetics. Certain genes make you more susceptible to develop a mental health or physical health problem.
  • Less likely to receive medical help. Those with mental illness are less likely to get routine checkups that may detect physical health conditions earlier.
  • Low motivation. Some mental health problems or medications may cause a lack of motivation. This can lead to less physical activity, causing weight gain and physical health issues.

About one in three people with a long-term physical health problem also has a mental health problem, such as depression or anxiety. Depression can cause headaches, fatigue, and digestive problems, with anxiety resulting in stomach issues. Both can cause insomnia, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating. But you can improve your mental and physical health simultaneously.

Eating nutritious meals with a balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates can help. Foods you eat can work towards preventing mental health conditions like depression. Eating a healthy diet can also lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

Quitting or not smoking at all can also greatly improve your health and well-being. Adults with depression are twice as likely to smoke than those without depression. ‘Self-medicating’ with smoking is a tactic some will use to help ease stress and anxiety but smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. It also has detrimental effects to your physical health, increasing the risk of heart disease, lung diseases, and many cancers.

Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to improve your mental and physical health. Research shows that exercise improves blood pressure, diabetes symptoms, and arthritis. Exercise can also improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Beyond their physical benefits, certain exercises are recommended to improve mental health:

  • Yoga—Yoga helps with relaxation and easing stress. According to the American Psychological Association, yoga is recommended for anyone with anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
  • Cycling—Studies show that for those with schizophrenia, cycling helps keep the white matter in the brain healthy, allowing brain function to improve.
  • Running—Running can help control manic symptoms in those with bipolar disorder, providing a calming effect that helps mood regulation.
  • Boxing—This helps release stress and anger. Boxing releases endorphins that boost your mood.

Frederick Health is here to help. Our Behavioral Health unit offers three levels of psychiatric care to help treat your unique needs: emergency evaluation, inpatient hospitalization, and psychiatric partial hospitalization services. We help link patients to the care they need including counseling, medication management, and case-management services to facilitate recovery.

In addition, our Forensic Nursing team helps those who feel unsafe or are in crisis. This team of nurses and social workers provide emotional support, medical care, education, and more. The Forensic Nursing team also provides support and private care to those experiencing sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse, and human trafficking, amongst others. Many services are provided based on each individual’s specific needs.

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