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The Relationship Between Overall Health and Mental Health

Mental health

Mental health is much more important than most people realise. Mental health effects of all society and not just a very small, isolated section. While some groups are more prone to mental health problems, no one is immune. In fact, these issues are characterised by changes in thought, behaviour or mood. Good mental health is much more about the presence of no problems rather than the absence of issues. It is about being able to cope with change, new experiences and emerging trends in society.


Mental health problems can occur for various reasons. Some of the common reasons people develop mental health problems include depression, anxiety, drug or alcohol abuse and developmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. In addition, stress and traumatic experiences can also cause mental health problems. Any illness or disease can result in changes in your mood, thought processes and behaviour. A sudden or significant change in circumstances or routines can trigger illnesses which result in a range of symptoms including poor health and emotional upset.


The experience of any traumatic life event, for instance losing a loved one or experiencing prolonged emotional trauma, may lead to depression or anxiety. Major life changes such as the death of someone loved, marriage or divorce can also lead to depression and anxiety. People who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience symptoms of depression and anxiety when returning to their normal life after serving in the armed forces. Common symptoms of depression and anxiety include excessive sadness, thoughts of suicide or death, insomnia, fatigue, social withdrawal, a feeling of hopelessness and constant thoughts that things will never get better. However, people who suffer from these symptoms should seek medical help, as these symptoms could be the start of another illness. Common symptoms of depression include persistent feelings of sadness, guilt and worthlessness, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, inability to concentrate and difficulty concentrating and making decisions.


Poor mental health and/or psychological illness often lead to poor social well-being. The ability to socialize and meet new people and maintain relationships can be severely affected by depression and anxiety. Social interaction and relationships with other people is an important aspect of healthy psychological well-being and people with poor mental health and/or mental illness are less likely to have fulfilling social relationships and are at increased risk of developing problems with substance abuse and/or dependence. Poor social well-being can also lead to an increase in risky behaviours and thought patterns. These include alcohol, tobacco and drug use, risky sexual behaviour, unprotected sex and unprotected driving.


Depression and anxiety can also negatively impact on your physical well-being and this can lead to weight gain, lower self-esteem, decreased fitness levels and poor posture. Being overweight or underweight can lead to higher risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Being obese can exacerbate existing health issues, leaving those with mental illnesses at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease or becoming disabled from heart disease or diabetes. Poor physical health can also negatively impact upon one’s quality of sleep. Sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea and narcolepsy can be exacerbated by depression and anxiety. Poor sleep can have long-term effects on the brain and physical health.


One of the major challenges facing the world is an increasing population of older people, known as ‘the elderly.’ The number of elderly people over age 65 is set to double by the year 2030. While some believe that physical health and mental health are distinct and that they are unrelated, the reality is that poor mental health can create havoc with one’s physical health. As an increasing number of elderly people are living with chronic illness and/or in nursing home facilities, it is imperative that the mentally healthy become active and remain strong to promote good physical health.


The causes of mental illness are complex and not understood in a general way. However, a variety of theories and research show that poor coping skills, negative attitudes, dysfunctional thinking processes, and untreated depression and anxiety are some of the common factors. It has been proven that people who suffer from an overall poor mental health are more likely to develop serious physical illnesses. An important part of promoting good overall health and combating mental illness is to ensure that the mentally healthy person gets regular exercise and eats a balanced diet. The most effective way to combat mental illness is to provide the mentally healthy individual with a support system that includes family and friends, medical and mental health professionals, and workplace professionals.


When people begin to experience any of the above mentioned signs, they should seek medical attention. If left untreated, these illnesses can worsen and eventually lead to more serious conditions. Even minor signs of poor mental health conditions should not be ignored because they can progress into more serious diseases. With all aspects of life, it is important that people who experience mental illnesses receive treatment immediately and get the proper medical attention needed to control their condition.

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