People with mental health conditions are at higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. These diseases can be made worse by how you feel emotionally.
Many studies have shown that people with depression or anxiety suffer from more frequent headaches and stress-related release of hormones such as cortisol, which can negatively impact blood glucose levels.
People who experience emotional distress may also eat more frequently to calm down, which can result in overweight or obese status.
Certain medications used to treat psychiatric disorders work by altering hormone balance, and research shows they’re linked to weight gain. As many patients are young adults, this can become an additional challenge when trying to maintain their healthy body weight.
Furthermore, individuals with mental illness are up to three times more likely to use alcohol than those without it. Alcohol is a known cause of obesity due to its effect on appetite and metabolism.
Commentary: It’s important to note that although there are several potential causes for increased risks of chronic physical illnesses among people with mental health issues, not all cases of these diseases can be attributed to one factor alone. Rather, there are multiple factors working together.
Overall, though, it’s clear that people with mental health conditions are at greater risk of developing serious long-term medical conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and/or obesity.
Diagnosing mental illness
The more serious your mental health condition is, the higher chance you have of being diagnosed with it. It takes no special talent to suffer from depression or anxiety, so chances are if you’re experiencing symptoms, someone else has before.
Certain behaviours and patterns indicate that something may be off in how you’re feeling or functioning.
People who experience mental health conditions often show signs such as irritability, mood swings, changes in appetite, sleep issues, concentration problems, agitation, guilt, suicidal thoughts and actions, violence and self-harm. All of these can make it hard for people around them to understand what’s going on for you.
It’s important to remember that not everyone suffering from a mental health issue will develop a diagnosis. Only about one third of cases get this label.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling though. Help is available, and most things can be worked through. What might seem like their mental state isn’t improving could really be something different.
Stress, grief, life changes all can contribute to poor emotional wellness, but none of these should be used as an excuse to avoid seeking help.
Treatment for mental illness
One of the biggest risk factors in developing chronic, or long-term, health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure is stress.
People with mental illnesses are exposed to more frequent and longer bouts of stress than people without such disorders.
This increased exposure to stress can have negative effects on physical health that go beyond just affecting glucose metabolism or blood pressure.
It may also contribute to weight gain and cardiovascular disease by altering the balance of hormones like cortisol and ghrelin.
Hormones play an important role in regulating mood, appetite, and sleep.
Given that most therapies for psychiatric diseases focus on changing how patients feel about themselves and/or helping them think more positively, it makes sense that these treatments would reduce levels of stress.
However, research shows that some medication classes used to treat major depression and bipolar disorder actually increase overall body Agerosensibility.
That means you get hungry faster due to elevated levels of ghrelin (a hormone that stimulates hunger) and your body uses extra calories to process and counteract the drug being administered.
Helpful tips for those with mental illness
It is important to note that having a mental health condition does not make you any less of an individual. You are still the same person with the same hopes, dreams, and desires.
You may be diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorder, which can affect your mood and how you feel about yourself and the world around you.
This could lead to feelings of sadness, worry, anger, fear, and/or guilt. These emotions can have negative effects on other areas of your life, such as relationships, work, and self-care.
It is very common to feel overwhelmed at times due to the nature of your mental health diagnosis. It is normal to feel bad about yourself and think about giving up.
But there are ways to manage your symptoms and get through this difficult time. Here are some helpful tips.
There are many ways that mental health issues can affect your physical health, so it is important to recognize when symptoms are beyond the normal stressors of life and require professional intervention.
Many people suffer from anxiety or depression without realizing it. These conditions often go unnoticed because people who experience them usually don’t talk about it.
When you do decide to seek help, make sure you tell your doctor about any previous attempts to treat your condition and what didn’t work.
It may be difficult at first, but seeking help for your emotional state will benefit you in the long run.
Some common signs that someone might need counseling include: frequent arguments with friends and family, mood swings, changes in eating habits, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or actions, and/or self-harming behaviors.
If you or someone you know shows these warning signs, discuss possible treatments with him or her.
Learn to relax
There are many ways that mental health conditions can affect your physical health, and one of the biggest factors is how you manage stress.
Many people suffer from stress due to life changing events such as moving or giving up things they want to do because of job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, etc.
Other reasons for stress include financial issues, relationship problems, and health concerns.
When we’re stressed, our hormones get in gear and influence other parts of the body.
Some of these effects may be helpful like when we’re hungry so we eat, sleep so we can rest, and exercise so we have more energy, but some aren’t – smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and poor eating habits are just a few examples of this.
Having adequate sleep and regular meals are important for keeping your overall health high, but individuals with mental health conditions often don’t enjoy these opportunities, making it even harder to focus on their general well-being.
A link between chronic stress and cardiovascular disease has been proven, and studies suggest that stress contributes to obesity and diabetes.
Eat your greens
Recent studies show that people with mental health issues are more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. This is due at least in part to symptoms of their disorder interfering with their eating habits and/or them feeling stressed or anxious when they try to eat nutritious foods.
Obesity can actually worsen mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Overweight individuals are more than twice as likely to have depressive disorders compared to those who are healthy weight.
Depressed overweight people are also more likely to experience poor appetite and stress-related eating patterns, which only make things worse. On the other hand, dieting is a common way to treat mood disorders, so being conscious of how much food you consume could be a helpful tool in recovery.
Diabetes similarly impacts emotional regulation. Because diabetics need to pay close attention to what they’re consuming for control, this can contribute to mental illness because patients must manage both diets and emotions.
For example, someone with type 2 diabetes may worry about whether they will find enough fuel to function during a job interview, which can influence their performance and emotion regulation.
Heart disease potentially contributes to mental health problems through similar mechanisms. People with cardiovascular diseases are more prone to experiencing stress, which can cause some to eat less effectively and put themselves at risk for another condition.
Overall, nutritional deficiencies and chronic illnesses can affect brain functioning and lead to psychiatric diagnoses.
Connect with your family
One of the biggest issues that people with mental health conditions face is lack of support. This can be due to financial constraints, but also not knowing what to do with their lives or who they can trust.
For example, someone with depression may stay in bed most days because they cannot motivate themselves to get out and do things. They may feel too tired to go outside or use the washroom, so they hold it until later.
But by never getting up, these individuals avoid going outside which helps maintain poor physical health. A related issue is when loved ones give off negative energy such as fear, stress, or anger.
This can make the person with mental health conditions feel worse and contribute to more anxiety, worry, and depression.
They may try even harder to help you feel better by putting more pressure on you, which only creates more suffering for you.
It is important to understand that your family member’s behavior is not his/her fault. It is a symptom of their mental illness.
Don’t put blame onto them, instead focus on helping them deal with their disease. Try talking about how you feel and asking if there is anything you can do for them.
By being aware of the symptoms of mental illnesses and how they affect others, you will know what to look out for and how to help.