Almost 50% of Americans will have a mental health illness diagnosis during their life. Every year, almost 20% of the population is currently dealing with mental health issues.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed mental health as one of the contributors to chronic physical conditions. But just how closely linked are mental health and physical health?
Luckily, we have broken down how the two are connected and ways you can start improving your mental and physical health today, so keep reading for more information!
Mental Health and Physical Health
Although some may view their mental wellness as separate from physical health, they significantly impact each other. For example, depression can present as:
- Low mood
- Decreased appetite
- Poor sleeping behaviors
- Lower self-esteem
- Reduced social interaction
Exercise can help boost neurochemicals in the brain that help combat depressive feelings, but it can also work at preventing depressive symptoms from starting. Implementing regular exercise can help:
- Increase norepinephrine
- Increase serotonin
Serotonin is a chemical found in your gut and central nervous system. It helps various motor tasks and mental wellness, including:
- Managing depression
- Managing anxiety
- Wound healing
- Bone health
- Bowel movements
- Sexual function
Many physicians treat depression through selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These prescription medications can help boost serotonin levels in the brain but can lead to a host of adverse side effects. Natural serotonin treatments include exercise, light therapy (including sunlight), healthy diets, and meditation.
Chronic Disease and Mental Health
Physical health, specifically chronic illnesses, is the leading cause of mortality and health care expenditures. Some examples of common chronic diseases are:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Back pain
Physical chronic illnesses are also tied to an almost 37% increase in psychiatric illnesses, contributing to higher mortality rates. What is the best method of approaching chronic diseases?
Unfortunately, the health care system views many diseases through acute treatments. These can include rigorous testing, surgeries, or prescription medications. While they can manage symptoms in the short term, they lack the long-term implications to reverse lifestyle habits that could contribute to a disease’s prognosis.
COVID-19 vs. Overall Wellness
The COVID-19 pin-pointed many links of the connection between physical and mental health. A study surveyed teenagers and young adults and found that over 60% reported poor mental and physical health during the pandemic. Higher rates of depression and anxiety during this period led to the increasing use of vape products.
Teenagers and young adults were not the only ones hit hard during the pandemic. Adults were confined to social distancing practices, primarily remaining at home. Reduced socialization and many fitness centers closing could also play a factor in physical and mental health outcomes.
During the pandemic, almost one-quarter of adults did not meet the physical activity guidelines outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO). Increased sedentary behavior was also linked to poor eating behaviors and increased substance use.
Finding ways to stay active with work-from-home jobs while eating healthy can be challenging for many individuals, although studies show that taking time for physical activity can improve:
- Depressive symptoms
Additionally, the researchers found that increased physical activity and improved mental health outcomes were not linked to one age group. Anyone can benefit from healthy and sustainable changes that target wholesome activities and healthy eating behaviors.
Why Is Weight Loss Difficult?
Managing weight loss safely can be difficult because of hormones, metabolic functioning, and genetics, to name a few. Fad diets can lead to short-term weight loss but long-term weight gain. It can also create an unhealthy relationship with food.
On the flip side, some people view weight loss as an exercise-targeted goal and neglect diet. Over-exercising can cause other physical concerns, such as chronic or overuse injuries. Sleep and stress are two other areas that might negatively impact your weight loss journey.
Overweight or obese individuals have a higher risk for:
- Diabetes type II
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney cancer
Excess weight reduces life expectancy and quality of life. One study looked at how weight loss goals can help improve your health in physical and mental aspects. The researchers used techniques such as:
- Low-carbohydrate diets
- Physical activity
- Gut health education
- Stress management
- Sleep education
After ten weeks, participants averaged a 6.5% weight loss. Almost 70% completed the program and dietary suggestions without feeling hungry, and over 80% had improved confidence. The group also reported improved mental health factors and reduced high blood pressure.
Safe Weight Loss Programs
Safe and effective weight loss programs have proven to help improve physical health and mental wellness. Yet, it should be in a controlled and healthy manner with no more than a three-pound loss in any given week. After six weeks, this will equal 15 to 20 pounds lost.
Physician-guided weight loss programs can individualize treatments to fit your needs. It can include food sensitivity testing, metabolic support, and other evidence-based practices. Implementing a guided dietary plan can help you implement long-term health changes that contribute to:
- Losing weight
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved cholesterol levels
- Fewer medications
- Improved mental and emotional health
Safe weight loss programs can also include metabolic booster shots and HCG treatments. In specific populations, this can help kick-start slower metabolisms and get you back on track faster.
What Is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a branch of medicine dedicated to whole-body wellness. This includes mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Rather than treating symptoms, naturopathic medicine looks at the entirety of the human body to see how to improve health and wellness. Naturopathic medicine also offers:
- Fewer medications and side effects
- Individualized health treatments
Many physical illnesses treated with naturopathic medicine can improve mental wellness too. Some of the physical and mental health diagnoses used through this medicinal approach are:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Food sensitivities
- Autoimmune diseases
- Menopausal symptoms
- Thyroid diseases
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High stress
During a naturopathic consultation, your skilled clinician can review personal health goals. Labs can be ordered on-site. Mainly, these labs look at cholesterol numbers or food allergies.
Individualized Care Plan
After your naturopathic clinician receives the results, you will get a customized care plan. The plan could include:
- Nutritional guidance
- Exercise goals
- Homeopathic remedies
- IV nutrition
Holistic therapies are another essential part of naturopathic treatment plans. They can help you build healthy habits and notice overall physical and mental well-being changes.
Can Allergies Lead to Mental Health Problems?
People diagnosed with allergies are at an increased risk for other mental health diagnoses, such as:
- Bipolar disorder
Topical skin allergies can cause physical discomfort and reduced confidence in social settings. It can also impact sleep, which negatively affects physical and mental well-being.
Naturopathic allergy treatment plans are some of the best methods to combat physical symptoms without using medications or IV therapy. Both standard allergy therapies can have short or long-term side effects and require frequent doctor’s appointments.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) can help treat the diagnosis rather than the symptoms. Some allergy types SLIT is used for are:
- Food (allergies and sensitivities)
- Hay fever
SLIT is easy to use at home and requires daily drops under the tongue. After a couple of weeks to months, you should notice a decrease in allergy symptoms, improvements in physical activity, and mental health.
Physical and Mental Health Treatments
More studies are suggesting holistic and natural approaches. For example, high cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of blood clots. These blood clots could break loose and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Statins are lipid-reducing prescription medications. They help lower LDL cholesterol levels, reducing your symptoms and health risks. While high cholesterol can have genetic implications, your risks can increase from lifestyle habits.
Poor dieting and lack of exercise are two main contributors. If these factors aren’t addressed, you could still be highly likely to have a cardiac event. Naturopathic physicians can prescribe statins and suggest healthy lifestyle factors you can change.
Together, you can develop a plan that adapts to your health needs and includes regular check-ins. Treating day-to-day wellness can contribute to longer and healthier lives. What are other physical and mental health treatments?
- Group or individualized therapy
- Outdoor hobbies
- Walking the dog
- Buying fresh food
- And more
Working from home can pose challenges to your physical and emotional health. Lack of socializing or structured exercise can contribute to long-term health consequences. Find time to visit your naturopathic doctor and implement strategies that help you move, socialize, and eat healthy during your workweek.
A Better Approach to Wellness
Mental health and physical health can negatively impact your quality of life and even mortality. They are closely intertwined, and you often don’t have one without the other.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more critical to address these issues since they have spiked, and naturopathic medicine is a key player. Naturopathic medicine can treat the entire person as a whole entity, reducing visits to multiple specialists or paying exorbitant fees for tests and measures.
Are you ready to start your journey to better health and wellness? Contact us today for more information!