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The Mind-Body Connection: Linking Physical and Mental Health

As much as we’d like to believe otherwise at times, our brains and bodies are interconnected. Both our mental and physical health affect one another, and neglecting one is almost certain to cause issues in the other. Happily, the reverse is also true, and improving either your mental or physical health can potentially have positive ramifications for the other. For that reason, it’s important to have an understanding of the mind-body connection, and how you can use it to improve your overall health.

How Does Physical Health Affect Mental Health?

Dealing with injuries or illnesses can be exhausting, stressful, and isolating. Almost one-third of people who suffer from a chronic physical health condition also suffer from mental health issues, most frequently depression or anxiety.

Even non-life threatening physical conditions can have a significant impact on mental health. For example, people who are affected by psoriasis are significantly more likely to also suffer from depression. Scientists have speculated that this may be due in part to common underlying biological mechanisms; however, the feelings of shame, stigmatization, and low self-esteem that psoriasis can bring have also been acknowledged as playing a large role in the link between the two conditions.

How Does Mental Health Affect Physical Health?

Mental health problems can manifest in your physical health in a variety of ways. In particular, depression has been linked to a slew of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, asthma, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

From a more indirect standpoint, people who suffer from mental illness may be more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, or to have psychological symptoms that affect their physical health. For example, poor mental health might result in insomnia for some people, or might contribute to persistent feelings of low motivation. In turn, these things might make it more difficult for those individuals to practice healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising regularly, maintaining a nutritious diet, or seeing a doctor for preventive care.

How To Hack the Mind-Body Connection

Having an understanding of the factors that serve as links between mental health and physical health can better enable people to make choices that will benefit their overall well-being. One study identified physical activity, smoking, and social interaction as being lifestyle choices that impacted mental and physical health.

RADIAS Health provides person-centered integrated healthcare services to people suffering from mental illness, substance use, or co-occurring disorders. Our services encompass primary care and behavioral health services delivered by compassionate, skilled health care and support staff. In addition, our care includes supplementary services such as case management, supportive housing, homeless services, residential services, outpatient DBT treatment, and more. If you or someone you know could benefit from our mission, contact us today or consider donating!

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