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How Does Mental Health Affect Physical Health

physical health

How Does Mental Health Affect Physical Health

Although you may view mind and body as two different things, mental and physical well-being are almost the same. Your mental well-being directly impacts your physical health. Meaning, good mental health positively impacts your physical health, while poor mental health affects your physical health negatively.

Effects of Mental Health on Physical Health

Our mental well-being plays an important role in our general well-being. Being mentally stable keeps us healthy and prevents us from developing serious health conditions. According to a study, positive psychological well-being reduces the chances of developing heart attacks and strokes. In the same manner, poor mental health can lead to poor physical well-being or harmful habits. 

Chronic Diseases

People with mental disorders are more likely to develop chronic diseases. These diseases include cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. Schizophrenia is also associated with a higher risk of heart and respiratory diseases. With mental disorders, it becomes difficult to deal with chronic illness. In fact, the mortality rate from cancer and cardiovascular diseases is higher in people with mental health disorders.


People with mental health disorders such as depression tend to smoke more than those who do not have mental challenges. These individuals are likely to smoke more cigarettes compared to other smokers. Individuals suffering from depression have lower levels of dopamine – a chemical that controls positive feelings in our brain.

Since cigarettes contain nicotine, they trigger the production of dopamine and are used as a reliever for symptoms of depression. However, due to the temporary relief caused by smoking, you may feel the urge to keep smoking which may cause addiction.

Sleep Problems

Individuals with mental health disorders are more likely to experience sleep problems than those who do not have mental health problems. Sleep problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea are common in people with mental issues such as depression. Insomnia makes it difficult for one to fall asleep or stay asleep, while sleep apnea causes breathing problems that make you wake up frequently.

About 50% to 80% of individuals with mental health disorders have sleeping problems. On the other hand, only 10% to 18% of the entire general population experience sleeping problems. Though mental disorders such as depression, bipolar, or anxiety may cause sleep problems, sleep problems may worsen your mental conditions.

How To Take Care Of Your Mental and Physical Health Problems

Having a mental health issue does not necessarily mean that you’ll develop a physical health problem. There are lifestyle changes you can develop to be in good physical health.


Physical activity is one of the best ways of keeping you physically fit and enhances mental health. According to research, exercise regulates the feel-good chemicals known as endorphins. It does not matter how many minutes you exercise since even 10 minutes can improve mental stability, mood, and energy. Whether you choose to run, swim or walk, any physical activity counts.

Eat Healthily

Eating well is important in improving your general well-being and mood. Your diet should include the right amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water. What we eat influences the development, management, and prevention of certain mental health disorders such as depression and dementia.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is harmful to both mental health and mental health. Individuals with mental health disorders may think that smoking is a good reliever for their symptoms, but it may only have a short-term effect. Smoking may lead to chronic diseases such as respiratory diseases.

Get Enough Sleep

A good sleep includes 7-9 hours for adults. Ensure that you have uninterrupted sleep. You can avoid interruption to your sleep by not taking your phone to the bedroom. You can also have a 30-minute nap during the day to keep you alert. Avoid too much sleep during the day to avoid sleep problems at night. If you are the kind of person who stays for a while before falling asleep, ensure that all electronics are turned off an hour before bedtime.

Develop Good Mental Practices

Avoid dwelling too much on negative emotions. For example, do not overthink sad things, but rather concentrate on things that make you happy. Happiness boosts your mood while sadness deteriorates it.

Try Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as meditation and a deep breath can release stress. Low levels of stress do not only improve your mental health but also physical health.

Seek Help from Others

Do not keep it to yourself whenever you feel stressed. Talk to a friend or a person you can trust about your feelings. Opening up ensures that you feel less stressed and more relaxed.

When To Seek Professional’s Help

If you are worried about the toll your physical health is taking, ensure that you seek a professional’s help. In some cases, medication and therapy might be the only way to help. If you find it difficult to speak to your therapist or you’re afraid they won’t listen to you, ensure to bring a trusted loved one to assist in asserting you.

Effects of Mental Health on Physical Health – Bottom Line 

To be in the right state of mind, you need to be physically healthy. No one can be mentally fit while their physical health is in jeopardy. For example, when you are suffering from a certain physical disease such as cancer, your mind is bound to be interfered with. You’ll spend most of your days wondering why and how you can get the right treatment—the same case when you have a mental illness such as depression. Your physical well-being is likely to be affected since you will likely experience a lack of energy and will. However, it’s important to know that not all people experience physical health problems due to their mental health challenges. That being the case, it’s important to take good care of your mental and physical health. It’s only then that you can live a happy, healthy life.

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