Can Mental Illnesses Cause Physical Symptoms?

A mental health disorder may disrupt the proper functioning of nerve cell networks that process information for identifying and analysing physical pain

Our view towards mental health and its importance has changed in recent years. Gradually the stigma surrounding mental illness is dissipating. There is no more hush-hush surrounding the conversations on one's mental and emotional state. Despite the steady progress, there is so much we're still unaware of concerning mental health. Contrary to the popular belief, a mental illnesses isn't just ‘all in your head’. Mental disorders not only affect the brain and its workings and have a significant impact on your physical health too.

When you experience acute back aches or excruciating headaches, what do you usually attribute it to? If you're running out of breath or feel your heart going into a frenzy, what do you think of? Most people when experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms might ascribe it to a physical ailment. That might not be wholly true as mental health has a direct impact on your physical health and vice versa. Depression, for example, can slow your digestion which in turn can cause stomach problems. Many don't realise that their physical symptoms might be caused by their mental illness.

Many medical professionals are of the opinion that mental illnesses can instigate sudden pains and aches or unique physical symptoms. Some of the physical symptoms experienced by those suffering from a mental health disorder are:

· Headache

· Back pain

· Muscles and joint pain

· Palpitations, Chest pain (in the absence of serious heart, stomach or lung disorders)

· Dry mouth or difficulty in breathing

· Trembling, tingling sensation in body

· Nausea, diarrhoea or constipation are common. There may be a loss of appetite or overeating, both of which are unhealthy ways of coping.

· Frequent spells of dizziness or light-headedness

· Exhaustion and fatigue are the most popular physical symptoms. Irrespective of the amount of sleep, one might feel worn out and unwilling to get out of bed.

· Trouble falling asleep or maintaining sleep. Frequent dreams or nightmares are common too.

· Alteration in libido, change in menstrual pattern can also be observed.

The mind and body work in conjunction to ensure your overall well being. A healthy, thriving mind will help prevent serious health conditions namely heart attacks, stroke, endocrinological problems, etc.

To maintain good mental and physical health, follow the given suggestions:

· Exercise regularly- First and foremost one should exercise regularly to keep themselves mentally and physically healthy. Performing your preferred form of exercise, be it yoga, cycling, swimming or simple walking; will increase your mental alertness and also act as a stress buster.

· Balanced diet- A diet high in fruits, vegetables and other nutrients will make you feel better physically and mentally. Carbs and processed sugar trigger imbalances of certain brain chemicals and increase the long term risk of developing a mental health disorder.

· Avoid alcohol and drugs- Drinking, smoking or consuming recreational drugs may dampen or excite your senses emotions temporarily. It can have a negative, long lasting impact on both your physical as well as mental health.

· Healthy amounts of sleep- Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep will make you feel fresh and rejuvenated. A short 20-30 minutes nap during the day might also help you pick up the pace, but one must avoid spending excessive time on the bed during the day.

· Stress relief- Practice meditation, deep breathing or a favoured hobby to relax and unwind.

· Seek help- Mental health conditions will only worsen with time if you do not get the necessary help. Ask for help, do not feel embarrassed or weak. Seeking help and striving to lead a fuller, healthier life is a sign of exceptional strength and courage. Let mental health professionals assist you through your difficult times.

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