Can Physical Health Impact on Mental Health?


Despite the clear distinction between mind and body, our mental and physical health are connected. The human body is essentially a well-oiled machine. If you think of it as a car, then you can see how our physical state can impact on our mental wellbeing.

For instance, a car with worn out wheels will consume much more fuel to slow down even though the wheels and the engine are two entirely different parts of the vehicle. Similarly, with us humans, our bodies can dictate how our minds feel and vice versa.        

Our physical health can impact on our mental health in a positive way and in a negative way. If you eat a balanced diet consistently, then your physical state will improve and so will your mental health. If you are a chronic smoker, your physical state deteriorates and eventually so does your mental wellbeing. Let’s look at some clear-cut examples of physical health affecting mental health.      

Exercise and Depression      

Physical activity has great benefits for both the body and mind. For the body, it yields better overall fitness and helps build muscle mass, making us stronger. For the mind, exercise increases activity in the frontal lobes and increases the brain’s uptake of endorphins, which are otherwise known as feel-good hormones.      

Physical exercises improve our physical state, but they also have a great impact on mental health. In fact, exercise is considered the best natural antidepressant because of the effect it has on the mind. Exercise improves our physical health, and our physical health positively affects our mental wellbeing. Better physical health enhances confidence and self-esteem, and this can uplift a depressed individual’s mood considerably.      

Depression and Chronic Illnesses      

On the flip side of things, poor physical health is detrimental to our mental health. A study conducted in 2009 on patients with chronic heart disease discovered that 22 per cent of the subjects had mild depression. 17 per cent of the participants were even taking antidepressants. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that poor quality of life brought on by chronic illnesses can cause depression.

This conclusion was echoed by one professor from the Institute of Psychiatry in London. Professor David Goldberg noted that chronic illnesses put people at higher risk of depression. Interestingly, he also stated that depression could cause some chronic physical illnesses, saying “depression and chronic illness [es] are in [a] reciprocal relationship with one another.”      

Poor physical health is often a precursor to mental illnesses, but the reverse is also true. Let’s look at how our mental health can impact our physical state.      

Stress and Chronic Illnesses      

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that affects millions of people worldwide. This condition, which is characterized by the development of flaky sores on the skin, is triggered solely by stress, making it a prime example of how poor mental wellbeing can affect our physical state.      

85 percent of psoriasis patients are irked by their condition. One in ten contemplate suicide, and one in three feel shame and humiliation over their condition. This shows us the profound impact our mental health can have on our physical wellbeing, but it is also a clear example of how something like a bad skin condition can cause depression and even promote suicide.      

Physical stress has just as bad an impact on mental wellbeing, which is why many professional athletes suffer from mental illnesses at some point in their careers. Retired athletes often fall into depression due to the sudden shift in routine at the end of their careers. Their bodies are adapted to strenuous training schedules, and the sudden switch to sedentary living often instils them with a sense of hopelessness and lost purpose.      

Our physical and mental health are tied to one another in complicated ways. What we know is that they can both impact on each other positively and negatively. Many chronic illnesses are predated by mental illness, but our mental health also suffers significantly when our bodies undergo a prolonged period of illness. The two are cyclically linked, so your physical health is just as important to your mental wellbeing as your mental health is to your physical state.

Mayfair, we care