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Ignoring mental health can cost you your physical health

By Dr. Madhusudan Singh Solanki in Mental Health And Behavioural Sciences

Oct 10 , 2022 | 1 min read

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There is no better time to ponder over the importance of mental health than World Mental Health day, celebrated worldwide on 10th October every year to increase awareness regarding mental health and mental health disorders.

Interestingly, often perceived and treated as separate, your mental and physical health are deeply intertwined and connected to the point that either one can't function optimally in isolation.

Your mental status and emotions affect your physical body- if someone gets angry, their body responds instantly by increasing heart rate, pumping more blood into muscles, breathing faster, blood pressure rises, and many other changes occur in a hormonal, neural and neuromuscular level, that is beyond our conscious awareness. This all happens in a few seconds. Now imagine how sustained stress, depression and anxiety would affect your physical health in the long run.

Studies have shown that if depression or anxiety coexist with other physical health disorders, they make them worse, in terms of: 
  1. worsening parameters,

  2. poor response to treatment,

  3. poor compliance with treatment

  4. increased chances of complications

You would be surprised to know how common it is for depression and anxiety to coexist with other physical health disorders and make them worse:
  1. 25-45% of cardiac patients also have depression or anxiety

  2. 30-35% of patients with stomach and gastrointestinal disorders like celiac or Crohn's disease have depression.

  3. 30% of patients with diabetes have comorbid depression

  4. 50-60% % of patients with lung disorders like asthma have underlying anxiety or depression

  5. 30 % of post-stroke patients have depression

  6. 50% of patients with Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's have depression

  7. 40 % of patients with HIV have depression

  8. 20-24 % of patients with cancer have anxiety/depression

Studies have shown that if these mental health issues are not identified and addressed, these physical disorders do not respond to treatment optimally, and the outcome is poor. So it's crucial to identify and treat mental health issues in patients suffering from physical health disorders to improve treatment outcomes and quality of life.

These facts tell us again that the days of mind-body dichotomy are over, mental health should be given the importance it deserves, and a holistic approach to treating ailments should be the way forward.

Take care of your mental health, and do not hesitate to seek treatment if needed.
Remember, mental health disorders are treatable.

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