World Health Day: The Link Between Mental Health and Physical Health
World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on April 7th, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization, as well as other related organizations. World Health Day has a different feel this year than in previous years. In current times, where the entire world is dealing with a pandemic surrounded by death, sickness, and isolation, we must take care of our physical health even now more than ever. This whole month and entire year should be dedicated to protecting our physical health, strengthening our mental health, and supporting our first responders who are putting their lives on the line every single day to save the world. When this pandemic is over, we will see a surge in depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance use disorders, which drastically affects our physical health and is so closely tied to our mental health.
Depression and heart disease
Individuals with heart disease, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart failure, or coronary artery disease (which often leads to heart attacks), are at higher risk of developing depression. A percentage of people without a history of depression become depressed after a heart attack or after developing heart failure. Individuals with depression without previously detected heart disease; seem to develop heart disease at a higher rate than the general population. Negative lifestyle habits associated with depression, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, poor diet and lack of social support, interfere with the treatment for heart disease, and, as a result, these lifestyle habits can worsen both heart disease and depression.
Depression and diabetes
The relationship between diabetes and depression is not fully understood. However, science has shown that individuals who have diabetes, either type I or type 2, are at a higher risk of developing depression. Managing diabetes can be stressful as it takes a rigid diet and requires medication, either insulin or pills. As a result, this rigidity can be extremely stressful, leading to many symptoms of depression. Diabetes can also cause a plethora of complications such as poor wound healing, tingling and numbness in hands and feet, and vision loss, which can all worsen depression. On the other hand, depression can lead to poor lifestyle choices such as unhealthy eating, less exercise, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption, which can all lead to weight gain and increase the risk for diabetes. Depression can also affect one’s ability to be productive and perform tasks, which can make it difficult to manage diabetes.
Mental stress and the physical body
When we become stressed, whether it is from the loss of a job, a fight with a loved one, a long day at the office, or a current pandemic such as COVID-19, we tend to take less care of our bodies. Our minds and our emotions are on overdrive when we are stressed, and we forget to nourish our bodies with a proper diet, stick to a healthy sleep regimen, and may often rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drugs. As a result, our physical bodies become stressed, and our immune systems become compromised, increasing our risk of getting sick and increasing the amount of time it takes for wounds and infections to heal.
Taking care of our bodies to improve our mental health
If our physical health is connected to our mental health, how can we take care of our mental health by taking care of our bodies? Going to the doctor regularly and taking medications as directed are important lifestyle habits but about daily routines? We can incorporate healthy habits into our everyday routines:
- Drink at least 1 liter of water a day
- Exercise 20-30 minutes a day
- Eat whole foods such as fresh produce, lean meats, and whole grains.
- Spend time outdoors
- Adopt a regular and healthy sleep routine, 8 hours each night.
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We are committed to the health and safety of you and/or your loved ones, and we are FULLY OPEN & OPERATIONAL. At AKUA Mind & Body, the safety of our Clients is our top priority. We are aware of the increased fear and anxiety among most people regarding the current pandemic. Hence, we are doing everything that we can to keep healthfulness and safety.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health illness or substance use and addiction disorder, we can help now more than ever! AKUA Mind & Body provides an integrative treatment approach with multiple levels of care from detox, residential to virtual outpatient programs. With several facilities throughout the Sacramento Region, Los Angeles & Orange County Region, and San Diego Region, we aim to provide our clients with a solid foundation for healing and transformation. Gender specific and Co-ed facilities available.
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