You may have heard before that your mental health can have a serious impact on your physical health. You may lose sleep, experience nausea, oversleep or overeat, gain or lose weight, and so on. But did you know your physical health can have an impact on your mental health, too?
Our minds and bodies are deeply interconnected, and when one suffers, the other does as well. Read on to learn more about how physical health affects mental health and what you might experience when this happens.
One of the most significant ways your physical health can impact your mental health is through isolation. When you’re sick or in constant pain, you may start participating less in activities with your family and friends. You may even begin to withdraw from your home life if you feel like your family can’t understand what you’re going through.
Over time, this isolation may start to cause depression as you lose touch with the people you love most. You may become anxious and have trouble feeling happiness or even any sort of emotion at all. You may even have thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life – if you do, reach out for help right away.
In addition to pulling away from your family and friends, you might find that you have a hard time keeping up with your hobbies when your physical health declines. Maybe you used to enjoy hiking, running, or going for a morning bike ride on a nice weekend day. Or perhaps you liked wandering around local museums, knitting, or gardening.
As your health declines, you may find it more challenging to participate in your hobbies. You may be in too much pain to do the things you once used to, or an injury may prevent you from engaging in the activities you love. This can cause you to become depressed and may also put you at increased risk of anxiety because you no longer have the same options for relaxing.
Losing Coping Mechanisms
Your hobbies do more than just help you kill time after work and on weekends. They also help you cope with life’s daily stresses, whether that be a bad day at work or a fight with your partner. In particular, exercise releases endorphins that reduce stress and help you cope with any negative emotions you may be feeling.
However, you may not have access to these same coping mechanisms when you’re sick or injured. Exercise may be difficult or impossible, your hobbies may not be accessible, and your friends and family may feel far away. You may start to feel like you have nothing in your life but pain, sickness, and misery with no way to escape.
Your physical health can also impact your mental health even when you aren’t in the middle of an acute illness or injury. If you don’t take good care of your body, you may start to feel insecure about how you look. Society places a lot of pressure on us to look a certain way, and people who don’t fit into those (often unrealistic) standards may feel like they’re not good enough or even unlovable.
If you start eating poorly or neglecting your exercise routine, you may become self-conscious about your weight. Without proper dental care, you may develop cavities, bad breath, or gum issues that make you hesitant to show your full smile. This insecurity can start to make you withdrawn around others or may make you feel like you’re unworthy of love.
Dealing with health issues, especially chronic health issues, can be frustrating, to say the least. You may find yourself undergoing endless tests, treatment plans, and doctor’s appointments as you try to find a way to get better. You might even get the worst news of all – that there’s nothing left to do except get your affairs in order and spend time with your loved ones.
When you find yourself in these situations, it’s natural to feel angry. You may feel like your body has betrayed you or that modern medical science has turned its back on you. That anger can even start to seep into other parts of your life as you work through the grief and pain of living with an illness, injury, or disability.
Imbalance of Brain Chemistry
Of course, one of the most direct ways your physical health can influence your mental health is through brain chemistry. While many of us think of depression as a feeling of sadness or emptiness, science has shown us that it’s actually the result of an imbalance of chemicals in your brain. Conditions like schizophrenia and PTSD can cause your brain chemistry to be thrown entirely out of whack.
Although these illnesses have a physical root, they are also very much connected to our mental experience. The good news is that medications can help restore your neurotransmitters to their appropriate level. With help from a psychiatrist and a proper medication regimen, you could return your physical and mental health to their previous levels.
Learn How Physical Health Affects Mental Health
We often hear about how our mental health can have physical impacts, but the truth is that that road goes both ways. When your physical health suffers, you can become more prone to anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, and much more. You must care for your mind and body alike, as they are inextricably connected to make up your beautiful self.
If you’d like to learn more about how physical health affects mental health, check out the rest of our site at Preferred Injury Physicians. We are a group of compassionate and professional injury doctors who can help people obtain safe, effective, long-term relief. Find a location near you and discover how we can help you alleviate your pain today.