How Mental Health Affects your Physical Health

Katherine Portillo, Photographer

Many people are afraid to speak on the topic of mental health because society tells us it is not important, or at least, not as important as your physical well being. How can this be true with problems like eating disorders, self-harm, suicide, and panic disorders? Mental health is as important as your physical health and should be talked and treated with the upper hand.


Half of mental disorders and illnesses begin by age 14 and three-quarters of them by the age of 24. In the US, 46.7% of adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime and only 41% of the people experiencing this will seek help. 


When people do seek help and are diagnosed with an illness, their doctor may want to put them on medication immediately. There are many pros and cons to these types of supplements. Even though they may make the patient a bit more stable, it also comes with a lot of uncomfortable side effects along with life-threatening ones.. 


A few of the milder side effects of antidepressants may include: fatigue, excessive sweating, twitching, and lack of balance. A few life-threatening side effects are an increase of depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, self-harm, and even death.


Another way your physical health is affected is by panic attacks. A panic attack is the body’s adapted response to danger. Common symptoms of a panic attack may be: strong heartbeat, shortness of breath, feeling like you are having a heart attack, and feeling like you are about to die. 


In a panic attack, your brain is affected by containing less activity in the higher cortical regions, leading to over-activation of the deeper brain regions. The brain will begin to go into a sort of “fight or flight” mode due to the sense of danger. 


Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder where the patient fails to maintain a healthy weight with the fear of gaining weight. To prevent gaining any weight the patient may begin to starve themselves. They also may begin to exercise excessively to lose more weight.


Mental health can affect your body in an eating disorder. Researchers have shown that 24% of Bipolar patients have met the requirements of eating disorders and an estimate of 44% had trouble controlling their eating. Studies have shown that anorexics are 50 times more likely than the average population to commit suicide. 


Anorexia comes with severe medical conditions like irregular heartbeats, loss of bone mass kidney damage, liver damage, anemia, and infertility. Along with these, anorexia causes you to lose so many nutrients in your body which in serious cases, can lead to death if left untreated.


Your mental health is as important as your physical well being, if not more important than it. These reasons shown are exactly why. In many cases not taking care of your mental state may lead to serious health issues, but in bad cases, it may even death if not handled correctly. 

If you are in need of mental health services, click here for treatment centers near you.