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Connection Between Mental and Physical Health

Mental and physical health is fundamentally linked. There are multiple associations between mental health and chronic physical conditions that significantly impact people’s quality of life, demands on health care and other publicly funded services, and generate consequences to society.  The World Health Organization (WHO) defines: health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.   The WHO states that “there is no health without mental health.”1

Here are few ways in which your physical health is connected to your mental health :

  • Nutrition : Many factors contribute to inadequate diets including food insecurity, processed food consumption & micronutrient deficiency and a result can increase the prevalence of anxiety and depression.
  • Hydration : Lack of adequate water intake or dehydration is linked to cognitive impairment, mood changes, and even delirium.
  • Exercise : Physical activity is linked to reducing symptoms of depression and stress as well as increasing self-esteem and resilience, concentration and memory.
  • Sleep : Sleep problems have been linked to psychiatric disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders & ADHD; adequate sleep can help with emotional regulation & mental resilience.
  • Substance Use : Alcohol or drugs may be used to self-medicate to help cope with depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns; can increase underlying risk for mental disorders.
  • Illness : Anxiety and stress brought on by the experience of an illness can also lead to mental health disorders or exacerbate underlying symptoms related to anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns.
  • Social Well Being : Poor social connections or overall social well-being is associated with poor emotional health and may even exacerbate mental health conditions such as depression.

Understanding the links between mind and body is the first step in developing strategies to reduce the incidence of co-existing conditions and support those already living with mental illnesses and chronic physical conditions.

References : [1] Promoting mental health : concepts, emerging evidence, practice : summary report / a report from the World Health Organization, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in collaboration with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the University of Melbourne. (2004).

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16 replies »

  1. Great post as always! – Very informative and much needed. I write a lot about spiritual health and so often, Christians neglect their bodies in pursuit of ministry. I love to get these much needed reminders. Thanks for all you do!

    Liked by 2 people

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