Mental Health Impacts on Physical Health
and vice versa.
This fact is nothing new. Ask anyone with a chronic physical health problem about how it makes them feel and, without question, they will say it makes them feel depressed.
Feelings of depression and anxiety can trigger off a multitude of stomach problems including indigestion, nausea and vomiting. It can also affect your immune system, lowering it, making you more at risk from contracting viruses and infections. Even some physical illnesses such as influenza can cause depression.
So those who suffer from serious mental disorders are often battling pretty serious physical ones at the same time. There also tends to be more than one going on. Everybody is different so everyone will be particularly prone to certain conditions. E.G. An episode of measles when I was 7, has left me with very sensitive ears to the cold. Hard, cold winds give me earache. However, I also have problems with eczema, too, so any form of stress triggers off that causing itching, scabs and pus in my ear canal.
Along with the ear problem, I also have seborrhoeic dermatitis on my scalp. This is also triggered by stress and causes itchiness, pain and hair loss. Additionally I also have stomach problems and have been diagnosed with chronic pain. Despite endless tests, nothing significant has been found, so I just have to live with it. I self-medicate with anti-diarrhoea tablets, anti-nausea tablets and painkillers. I have symptoms every single day. I often joke that from the minute food enters my mouth and exits out at the other end, I'm ill. Pain in my bowels can affect the muscles in my legs which, in turn, disrupts my sleep. So, yes, I do have problems sleeping!
I've classed these physical ailments of mine as 'niggly'. They're not life-threatening but they do make life additionally miserable. As if the mental health problems weren't enough.
Another condition I have is pernicious anaemia (Vitamin B12 deficiency), only considered fatal if not treated. This condition doesn't interfere directly with my mental health but in itself it can cause depression.
So, it's easy to see how someone with depression etc. can become seriously ill in more ways than one. One other thing that many people with depression etc. have to take is medication. Some of these drugs are for long term use.
Medication can cause illness through side-effects which are just as serious as the condition that they are treating. Sometimes, those side effects are debilitating enough to require another change of medication. All drugs that are used for illnesses can cause long-term health problems. For example, Painkillers and many mental health drugs can cause a dry mouth. This, in turn, can lead to loss of teeth. As a 47 year old woman, and needing to take so many drugs, I need now to wear dentures. I just don't bother with them! Naughty, I know. But, loss of teeth is often put down to too much sugar or a deficient diet. However, sometimes, it just cannot be helped or treated, only prevented.
Regular drug use can also cause stomach disorders such as indigestion, nausea and ulcers. More pain and more depression soon follows after.
It's a vicious cycle and it just shows just how much many of us with mental health problems have to deal with physical illnesses, too.
December 28th, 2017