Why Your Mental Health Matters: The Link Between Mental Health And Overall Health

Posted on: 25 August 2015

Many people, men and women alike, do not take their mental health as seriously as their physical (medical) health. The reasons behind this are complicated but generally break down to the fact that many people do not feel that mental health conditions are legitimate health problems. Instead, they consider mental health to be a matter of will-power, strength, and determination. However, mental health issues can be linked to numerous other health conditions and problems. Get to know some of these connections so that you and the people you love can take better care of your mental and physical health.

Depression and Alzheimer's Disease

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. In fact, over 14 million people suffer from major depressive disorder every year. This statistic does not account for the large number of people who suffer from a milder form of depression.

When a person is suffering from a depressive disorder, they often experience issues such as prolonged periods of sadness, and feeling unduly helpless or hopeless. People who are depressed also often feel a lack of energy and an inability to engage in activities and social engagements, leading to isolation.

While many people think that depression can be overcome with a little positive thinking and force of will, it is actually a disorder that can have a physical effect upon the brain, influencing and affecting brain chemistry.

Recent research has actually found that depression may be an early sign of Alzheimer's and may even lead to its development. In the study most recently conducted, people with certain markers for depression were far more likely than those without depression to develop dementia later in life. 

As such, the sooner a person with depression gets treatment and gets their depression under control and managed, the less of a risk they will have later of developing Alzheimer's or other types of dementia. Treatments for depression in such cases could include therapy or counseling as well as prescription medications.

Anxiety and Heart Disease

Anxiety is another extremely common mental health issue in the United States. It consists of feelings of panic, uneasiness, tension, and constantly being on high alert as if something bad is always going to happen. People with anxiety often experience panic attacks that leave them with a racing heart, elevated blood pressure, or excessive sweating and breathlessness.

Because of the physical symptoms of anxiety, it may come as no surprise that unmanaged and untreated anxiety can be linked to cardiovascular issues and heart disease. Research on the link between anxiety and heart issues shows that a person suffering from anxiety is 26 percent more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease and 48 percent more likely to die from a cardiovascular incident than a person who does not have anxiety. 

These statistics alone should lead a person to seek out treatment for anxiety before their heart is adversely affected. This means getting into cognitive therapy, learning coping techniques like yoga and meditation, and using prescription medications to control and get rid of anxiety. Treatment for anxiety paired with proper cardiac care can prevent these issues from causing a major cardiac incident. 

Now that you know a few of the links between mental health disorders and a person's overall health, you can take proper steps to manage and treat any mental health issues you may be suffering from. Know that mental health issues are nothing to be ashamed of and there are treatments available so that you can get and stay healthy for years to come. Make an appointment with a healthcare clinic for more information.