Studies continue to show, according to local mental health professionals, many times there is a link between mental health issues and certain physical health disorders.
While not always the case, Bryan Herriman, director of CHEER Mental Health Center in Warren County, said often depression or emotional stress can trigger a number of physical health concerns ranging from a gain in weight, to higher than normal blood pressure readings, to symptoms related to an upset stomach or feelings of continually being tired.
According to a number of authorities, there are several physical health disorders that may stem from complications related to mental health issues.
Dealing with a mental health concern, may cause a person to face challenges related to obesity because of a change in diet and lifestyle.
Herriman said the mental health issue becomes a matter of prominence with respect to daily routine taking away incentives to exercise and be conscious of food consumption. Fatigue is another physical health malady that can be associated with a mental health condition.
The Mayo Clinic has reported, as have others, that mental illness can be more than just feelings of sadness or distress. Mental illness can cause feelings of significant tiredness, low energy and can also be responsible for insomnia. Even chronic pain has been found to be affected by mental illness.
A Harvard Medical School paper points out that those with chronic pain are at three times higher risk for developing psychiatric problems, while those with depression are three times more likely to develop associated chronic pain.
Dealing with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue generally taxes a person’s coping mechanisms. While there is no substitute for proper care, there are several self-care strategies that may prove helpful.
To employ a regiment of better health, including both mental and physical health, among the necessary steps at the top of the list is getting the proper amount of sleep and rest. It's recommended adults get 7 to 9 hours sleep each night and children and teens even more.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, as many as 30 percent of adults don’t get enough sleep. And according to Harvard Health Publications, this number increases to as much as 80 percent in people with mental health issues.
While a good night’s sleep is essential to everyone, people with mental health issues can especially benefit from getting proper rest.
In order to get the sleep needed it may be necessary to make certain lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine and nicotine a few hours before bed; not watching TV while trying to sleep; not exercising excessively shortly before going to bed; and other practices that may prohibit a good night's sleep.
To get the rest needed naps can also be important, if only for 10, 15 or 20 minutes.
Another option to better mental health might be a mild exercise program such as non stressful walks. Taking a walk outdoors has the added benefit of consuming natural sunlight which contains vitamin D to boost melatonin production, a factor that helps regulate sleep and mood.
While increasing your heart rate is necessary for weight loss, the mental benefits of walking occur at any pace.
One key feature of mental illness, especially depression and anxiety, is feelings of uselessness, helplessness, and lack of control.
Setting a small, achievable goal for the day and then accomplishing it can help combat these feelings. It is important to remember to keep the proposed task simple and easy to accomplish.
Essentially everyone struggles at one time or another with a mental illness concern. It’s important to recognize the reason you might be losing sleep or struggling with fatigue is because of a cloud of depression or anxiety or some other mental health disorder hovering above them. The answer is to take corrective action before the matter worsens.
CHEER is an agency of Volunteer Behavioral Health Care. It can be reached at www.vbhcs.org, or toll free 1-877-567-6051.