Blog Post #5 – Research Round 3

Inquiry Question: How does our mental health affect our physical health?

Round 3 Research: Can poor mental health result in physical diseases? Can too much stress be the cause of getting physically sick at a younger age?

As stated in previous blog posts, our mental health can play really big roles in your life which will eventually take a positive or negative toll on your physical health. If our mental health imrpoves, so does our physical health and vise versa. But the effect poor mental health has on our physical health is actually greater then most people think.

We all know that it’s really important to take care of our physical health, but sometimes we tend to look over taking care of our physical health. Both are key in maintaining a healthy body.

Over time, not taking care of our mental health or experiencing severe mental health isues without getting help can lead to physical health problems such as:

  • High blood pressure and/or heart rate
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Overall weak immune system
  • Premature death

Depression and anxiety cause an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure at a younger age. At the smae time, maintaining good mental heakth while experiencing physical health problems can be challenging (ex. cancer, diabetes, psoriasis) (1)

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People living with mental health conditions often face unemployment, unstable housing and social isolation more than others. Because of these social factors, their more vunerable to experiencing chronic physical conditions.

  • People experiencing poverty will not be able to buy a lot’s of food or food high in nutrition and in the future may experience nutritional deficiencies. (2)

People with serious mental illnesses face a greater risk of developing a range of chronic physical conditions compared to the general population. Higher rates of diabetes, heart disease and respiratory conditions in people with serious mental illnesses have been shown through research (2) the links to cancer are still being investigated and tested to see which types are most common for those with mental health problems.

  1. Diabetes is very high among people struggling with depression and schizophrenia because of their body’s resistence to insulin. They can also experience other diseases linked with diabetes such as obesity, as previously stated and high cholesterol levels. People with diabetes exprience more stress which can worsen their mental state as well as their already impacted physical state. (3)
  2.  Heart disease and stroke is one of the most common physical illnesses related to metal illnesses due to the high blood pressure, adrenaline and stress hormones which increases heart rate. In Canada, women with depression are 80% more likely to have some sort of heart disease than women without this mental illness. (8)
  3.  Respiratory conditions is common among people with poor mental health, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis and asthma. Smokers are also linked to poor mental heakth which broadens the list of resperatory conditions caused by poor mental health.
  4. Cancer being linked to metal health is still something being tested but recent research has found higher rates of cancer among people with schizophrenia than others. (7)
  5. Arthritis, people with arthritis are at significantly elevated risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders. (2)

 

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This table shows the percentage of people experiencing diefferent types of diseases experiencing mood disorders. (2)

Moving on to stress, which is something that is commonly experienced among all ages is something that can take more of a toll on your body then expected. Our bodies can handle stress in small doses, but if it’s long term, it will have an effect of our ohysical well-being. (4)

When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is a super common reaction to stress since it’s the body’s way of guarding itself against pain. Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a constant state of tension. When muscles are tense for a long time, this triggers other reactions of the body and causes stress-related disorders. (4) Acute stress, like the death of a loved one, can actually trigger frequent asthma attacks. The hyperventilation caused by stress can bring panic attacks. Over time, constant stress can poorly impact you resperatory system. (5) Chronic stress over a long period of time, can result in a long-term drain on the body. As your nervous system continues to trigger physical reactions to protect yourself, as stated in the previous blog post, it causes a wear and tear on your body. It’s not what chronic stress does to the nervous system, but what the constant activation of the nervous system does to other systems that becomes a long term problem. (4)

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Chronic stress can have a negative impact on a person’s immune system and physical health. If you are constantly under stress, physical symptoms such as chest pain, headaches, an upset stomach, trouble sleeping or high blood pressure are more common and can potentially lead to physical diseases. (6)

While stress is essential for survival, the chemicals caused by it can lead to chronic health problems, including the ones listed above. (5)

Overall, age doesn’t have as big of an impact on the connection mental health and physical health as you may think since these chronic physical conditions can happen to anyone at any age because of poor mental health or becuase of other reasons. This Blog Post concludes my Inquiry question since now we know that, yes, our mental health does impact our physical health and vise versa, whether that’s positively through excersise and meditation, or negatively, because of constant stress and other mental and physical health conditions.

I really hope you guys enjoyed reading these Blog Posts as much as I enjoyed researching about the topics and writing answers to them. This was a wonderful learning journey and I have learned so much from researching my own topics to reading other people’s Action, Inquiry and Story posts. Thank you so much!

-Perla

 

SITES:

1.Brad Brenner, Ph.D. “How Does Mental Health Affect Physical Health?” Therapy Group of NYC, 28 July 2021, https://nyctherapy.com/therapists-nyc-blog/how-does-mental-health-affect-physical-health/.

 

2. “Mental Health.” CMHA Ontario, https://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/the-relationship-between-mental-health-mental-illness-and-chronic-physical-conditions/.

 

3. “Diabetes and Mental Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Nov. 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/mental-health.html.

 

4. “Stress Effects on the Body.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body.

 

5. “How Stress Affects Heart Health.” Memorialhermann, 28 Dec. 2021, https://memorialhermann.org/services/specialties/heart-and-vascular/healthy-living/wellness/how-stress-affects-heart-health.

 

6. Can Stress Make You Sick? | Parkridge Health System. https://parkridgehealth.com/blog/entry/can-stress-make-you-sick.

 

7. “Cancer and Mental Health.” Mental Health America, https://www.mhanational.org/cancer-and-mental-health.

 

8. “Your Mental Health When Living with a Long-Term Lung Condition – British Lung Foundation.” Asthma + Lung UK, 27 Feb. 2022, https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/looking-after-your-mental-health/your-mental-health.

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