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Injury, Illness, and Illness: How Physical Health Affects Mental Health

Injury, Illness, and Illness: How Physical Health Affects Mental Health

  • October 11, 2021
Nurse giving news to women

Physical health and mental health are linked in a number of ways. If one is good, the other is likely to follow suit, but the opposite is also true. If one is bad, the other can suffer too.

The relationship between physical health and mental health

On the one hand, mental health can affect a person’s physical health. One study suggests that good mental health and well-being can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.1 Likewise, poor mental health can have the opposite effect. According to some research, depression is a powerful predictor of heart attacks.2

A person’s mental health can affect not only their physical health, but vice versa. Several studies have shown that regular exercise can improve overall mental health and reduce anxiety and depression.3 Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, and poor physical health can lead to poor mental health. In some cases, the psychological effects of chronic illness or serious injury can be detrimental.

The psychological effects of injuries, illnesses and illnesses

When a person’s physical health is poor, especially due to a chronic illness, it can have a serious impact on their mental health.

For example, physical injury and mental health can be strongly related. Especially when an athlete can no longer compete due to an injury, their mental health can suffer. In fact, injuries are recognized as one of the leading psychological stressors for athletes and are typically associated with an increased risk of mental illness such as depression.4th For example, 33% of injured Division I soccer players reported high levels of depressive symptoms and the need for depression treatment.5

Chronic illness and mental health have a similar relationship. The psychological effects of chronic illness can include an increased risk of developing mental illness. Of patients with conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, 20 to 25% also have a mood disorder. Typically, the more severe the condition, the more negative the mental health effects are. For cancer patients or those in need of acute care, this number increases to as much as 30% or higher.6th

Research on ICU patients also found that survivors were at higher risk of suicide and self-harm than hospital patients who were not in the ICU.7th Being in intensive care and fighting for your life can be a traumatic experience, and that trauma can lead to poor mental health or mental illness.

How to cope with poor mental health from illness or injury

Because physical health affects mental health, it is important for people with an injury or serious illness to also take care of their mental and emotional well-being.

If you are grappling with the negative effects of poor physical health on your mental health, here are some things you can do:

  • Try to improve your physical health if you can
  • Keep track of your physical health treatments, therapies, etc.
  • Take some time for yourself and relax
  • Try to distract yourself from your illness or injury
  • Avoid turning to drugs and alcohol as they usually end up feeling worse or leading to an addiction
  • Reach out to friends and family for assistance
  • Get professional mental health services

Because of the mental health effects of injury and physical illness, it is important to take care of yourself physically and mentally, especially when faced with adversity or stress. When you are in trouble, you are not alone. At Vertava Health Westerville, we provide mental health care in Westerville, Ohio to help you improve not only your mental health, but your general well-being as well. Contact us to find out more or to find another facility near you.

Thank You For Reading!


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