The Surprising Ways Your Mental Health Affects Your Physical Health

You’ll need to consider your health as a whole rather than breaking it down into parts
1 May 2023

You might not think it at first, but the truth is that mental and physical health are closely linked. Rather than trying to ensure one is in a good place before moving on to the next, it’s actually something you’ll need to think of as a combined effort – you’ll need to consider your health as a whole rather than breaking it down into parts. 

There are actually a number of ways that your mental health directly affects your physical health, which can show you just how closely linked the two halves of your overall wellbeing are. With this in mind, here are some of the perhaps surprising ways mental health affects your physical health.

Immune System 

Your immune system is a hugely important part of your overall health and wellbeing. If your immune system is in good condition, you’ll be much less likely to develop illnesses – your body can fight them off more easily. Even if you do catch a cold or get the flu, you usually won’t feel as ill as you would if your immune system was in poor condition. 

It makes sense, in that case, to take care of your immune system. This can be done by eating a healthy diet and exercising, as well as taking vitamin supplements in needed. It can also be done by being less stressed, which is a mental health issue. When you are stressed, your immune response can be impaired, and that will damage your immune system. In other words, when you’re suffering from stress, you’ll more easily become ill in physical ways as well. 

Digestive System 

Your digestive system is another area of your physical health where mental health can play a part. When you are suffering from stress and anxiety, you can develop a variety of digestive issues, such as constipation or diarrhea. You might even experience some intense stomach pains. 

The reason behind this is that stress will result in the body producing more cortisol, a hormone that puts us on alert so we can fight (or run from) whatever danger is ahead of us. It’s a primitive response, but one that still happens a lot today. Too much cortisol can be highly damaging in a number of ways, including how it negatively affects the digestive system. 

Sleep 

Getting enough sleep is vital for both our physical and mental health, but when we experience mental health problems like anxiety or depression, sleep is a lot more difficult to come by. Even if you do get to sleep, you might not stay asleep for long enough, or you might simply not sleep deeply enough. 
Lack of sleep will impact your physical health, increasing problems like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. It can also impact your mental health, causing depression, stress, and anxiety. If you already have these conditions, it will make everything worse. By dealing with one problem, you can start to deal with another, and sleep will eventually become easier. For example, if you’re stressed after checking for prostate cancer, make an appointment to see a doctor rather than worrying about it – this will help you sleep better and result in better overall health.