Many of us grew up learning about health strictly in terms of physical health—making sure your body was healthy. However, we now know that health is comprised of a number of things, including mental and emotional wellbeing. Being healthy means our minds, hearts and bodies are in good condition. Especially since issues with mental health can actually impact your physical health, as well.
As it turns out, physical health and mental health are closely related. People in good physical condition are more likely to be mentally and emotionally sound. On the other side, those suffering from mental illness are more likely to be in poor physical health. In fact, researchers have found a correlation between depression and heart disease. One study of patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease showed that 22 percent of the participants had some form of depression. Many people with mental health issues are more likely to also suffer from chronic health problems. In fact, people with diagnosed depression are 67 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 50 percent more likely to die from cancer than those without it.
There are a few reasons for this. First, those who suffer from mental health issues don’t always receive the physical care they need. They are not as likely to get routine checkups. Plus, those struggling with mental health issues may make lifestyle choices that lead to poor physical health, such as overeating or relying on drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms.
Of course, correlation does not equal causation—mental health issues do not necessarily cause physical problems. Those with chronic illnesses may be more likely to be depressed or struggle with mental health issues as a result of their physical condition. A physical condition can also mimic or mask symptoms of a mental health issue, leading to delays in mental health treatment.
If you suspect that you may have a mental health issue, consider seeing a therapist to make sure that you are getting proper treatment for your mind… and your body!