How Your Mental Health Can Affect Your Physical Health

Over the years, the attention and conversation surrounding the linkage between mental and physical health have increased after consistent research providing new evidence. Studies have successfully proved that adults diagnosed with mental disorders are at a greater risk of being diagnosed with physical health diseases and complications than those without any mental illness. However, people worldwide are less aware of the nature of physical difficulties due to mental health disorders. 

Existing research has suggested that mental health, emotional, and behavioral problems experienced especially during adolescence increase low health risk in adulthood. Most physical diseases have been connected to mental disorders experienced in adolescence, such as to conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety, and depression. 

That being said, mental illnesses have both an indirect or direct impact on an individual’s physical health. For example, mental disorders like depression alter or weaken the immune system, leading to a wide range of physical complications. Considerable evidence has suggested that stress leads to ineffective immune function and depression. These are mainly linked to alterations in terms of cellular immunity that eventually result in an inadequate immune response. 

Such changes quickly increase the risk of bacterial and viral infections that include the common cold and influenza. In some people, mood disorders have been known to impair immune response. This increases the intensity of asthma and allergies that are often triggered by common viral illnesses. 

Mental Illness in Adolescence: How Does It Affect Your Adulthood?

People diagnosed with mental disorders tend to engage in disorderly behaviors that can affect their physical health. Depression is positively associated with a lack of self-care. That is why in most cases, people suffering from clinical depression experience common symptoms like drug abuse, cigarette smoking, poor diets, less exercise, and sleep disorders. 

Scientists have stated that adolescents suffering from psychiatric disorders tend to engage in risky behaviors such as unsafe sex, substance abuse, and ad even suicide attempts that naturally result in poor health conditions. This way, disruptive disorders, depression, and anxiety have been associated with inactivity and unhealthy eating habits, leading to improper weight management. This inappropriate weight management surpasses childhood to adulthood and causes various chronic diseases like cholesterol, anorexia, obesity, and more. 

A study conducted by Abbort and Richards in 2009 provided strong evidence on how poor mental health during the developmental years can severely affect an individual’s adulthood. They stated that there had been a significant association between emotional problems faced in adolescence and emotional problems faced during adulthood. Children going through emotional turmoil have greater chances of being exposed to worsened health conditions and symptoms than those who do not face any emotional crisis.  

Mental Well-being: What Are the Determinants?

When it comes to mental well-being and health, social inequalities play a vital part. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and World Health Organization had published a report in 2014 that outlined vulnerability and exposure to adverse environmental, economic, and social circumstances that leads to the development of mental disorders. The report identified and evaluated that these inequalities are in action before birth and increases throughout life. For example, income inequality has been a primary factor of social exclusion and rejection in developing countries like England.

The report has further argued that a universal approach for reducing mental health inequalities. Thereby, improving mental well-being and physical health naturally. The factors influencing mental well-being and health function at the population, structural, community, family, and individual level. That is why adopting a multi-sectoral approach will help address the vast scale of the mental health crisis. 

Besides, improving social solidarity and togetherness is an essential avenue for reducing the social and health inequalities experienced worldwide. A socially inclusive society where every individual feels valued, their basic requirements are met, and their differences respected, which allows them to live with dignity. Various studies have also found that social relationships can influence habits that can be crucial for overall well-being and health. They offer a wide range of social support mechanisms that assist in mitigating stress. It also influences positive and robust physiological responses to different psychological harms and distress. 

Can being physically active help you?

One of the leading risk factors for worldwide mortality is physical inactiveness. It leads to almost 6% of global deaths. Research has successfully proved that physical activity reduces the chances of developing various common chronic diseases. These include colorectal cancer by 22%, diabetes by 35%, heart diseases by 49%, and breast cancer by 75% on average. 

However, physical activity should extend beyond “taking the stairs” and “standing” to bring effective physical health changes. Different types of physical activities like meditation, yoga, aerobic exercises are positively linked with improved mental well-being. Exercises can readily reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by boosting the mood of an individual. It helps in increasing endorphin levels (happy hormones) in the body. 

Exercises also increase heart rate that reverses brain damage caused by stress by stimulating norepinephrine production. This neurohormone improves mood, cognition, and thinking stressors often cloud that. Also, when an individual is physically active, they allow their sympathetic and central nervous systems to commune. This assists in improving their overall ability to respond to stress. 


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