Connecting Mental and Physical Health

Millions of Americans struggle with mental health woes; according to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one out of five US adults have at least one type of mental illness. What you might not realize is that mental health issues can translate into physical problems.

Struggling With Sleeping and Smoking

One such problem commonly linked to mental illness is disrupted sleeping patterns. Specifically, those with a history of mental health conditions tend to face a greater risk of developing sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia. Those with the former often have their sleep interrupted by breathing problems, while the latter is well known for making it difficult to fall asleep.

Among those with mental health issues, it is estimated that 50 to 80 percent of people have trouble getting regular sleep. In contrast, the figure found among the general population ranges between 10 and 18 percent.

Smoking is likewise more common for adults in relatively poor mental health. Furthermore, smokers with mental health problems tend to smoke more cigarettes than smokers without such issues. One reason for this, at least among depression sufferers, could be low dopamine levels. Upon smoking a cigarette, the brain increases its production of dopamine as a response to the inflow of nicotine into the body.

Access to healthcare is a third reason for the connection between mental and physical health. Serious mental conditions often make it difficult for individuals to take care of themselves, follow prescription guidelines and seek medical attention when necessary.

Taking Care of the Body and the Mind

There are certain steps you can take to simultaneously benefit both your mental and physical well-being:

Exercise on a Regular Basis: Not only does exercise help shed weight and tone your muscles, but physical activity may also put you in a better mood.

Eat Right: Many people consume far too many foods high in processed sugars and fats. Opting for fruits and vegetables instead could provide a boost to both your mental and physical health.

Avoid Harmful Habits: Drug use and Alcohol consumption can aggravate both physical and mental health problems.

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