The Mind-Body Connection: 3 Ways Mental Health Affects Physical Health
- October 8, 2019
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Most of us would like to think that our mental and physical health are separate from each other, but the reality is that the two are intertwined. Just think about the child who suddenly gets a “tummy ache” right before a big test. Their bodies are reacting to the stress and sending physical warning signs.
Keep reading to learn how your mental health affects your physical health – and why you should pay attention to your mind-body connection.
Several Mental Disorders Are Connected With Heart Disease
Studies have found a link between people with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression and heart disease. In fact, out of an international study of 3.2 million people, those with severe mental illness have a 78% higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the future.
Why is there such a strong connection between the two?
When your brain is experiencing panic or trauma, it releases chemicals and triggers within the body. For example, someone having a panic attack can experience a rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath. These physical stressors add up and can put your body at risk over time, including increasing your risk of heart attack or an erratic heartbeat.
Anxiety Can Lead to Irritable Bowels
People, and women in particular, who have high anxiety levels have more than triple the risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome. As a whole, people with mood disorders are more sensitive to discomfort and are more likely to notice early signs of GI discomfort. Unfortunately, this sensitivity can lead to overactivity of gut nerves, potentially leading to IBS. This is also because the colon is partially controlled by the nervous system.
The experience of IBS as a result of anxiety is a literal “gut feeling” about a situation. The nerves in your brain stimulate those in your gut, making your body sick as a result. In some cases, the best way to prevent this is to recognize GI sensitivity as an anxiety issue to prevent it from worsening.
Schizophrenia and Osteoporosis Are Closely Connected
Studies have found that having schizophrenia can almost double your chances of having low bone density, leading to osteoporosis. Similar studies have also connected schizophrenia and diabetes. In both cases, researchers need to keep studying to understand why this connection exists; however, some experts believe the link between schizophrenia and diabetes is genetic.
While the mental issues may not cause the physical ailments in this case, this example still highlights the mind-body connection and how the two are closely related.
Learn More About Your Mind-Body Connection
Once you understand how your mind affects your body (and vice versa) you can start to listen to the warning signals that your brain sends. You can learn that your rapid heartbeat is the result of an anxiety attack or understand the source of your sour stomach. This mind-body connection allows you to treat the root of the problem, not just the symptoms of pain.
At Sunshine Behavioral Health, we treat all patients with their mental and physical health in mind. Learn more about our services and our mission to understand why we are the best medical option for you.