For people struggling with physical health ailments, it is often the case that mental health can become deeply affected by an injury or illness, compounding an already troubling and frustrating problem. Fortunately, there are ways that people can build on coping mechanisms to lessen or even prevent mental health issues that arise in the wake of physical health problems.
As always, a discussion about concerns related to mental and physical health with a trusted physician is a great first step towards feeling better and relying on old and new friends alike to express feelings related to health problems can make the healing process easier. Here are just a few ways that physical health directly affects mental health, and why addressing the issue head-on can help significantly.
1. Physical Health and Sleep Patterns: Deeply Related Issues?
An injury or illness can affect different aspects of our lives in profound ways, not the least of which is our capacity for getting a healthy amount of sleep each night. If we're feeling ill or are in pain as a result of physical health issues, in other words, we may have trouble getting seven or eight hours of consistent sleep per night or may even have trouble getting to sleep at all.
Serious conditions can also often last for months and years, meaning that we're losing sleep in the long-term; for example, a reasonable period for AC joint separation recovery time can make for poor sleep patterns that produce symptoms of anxiety and depression. If we're tired, irritable, and grumpy during the day due to lack of sleep, moreover, it is easy to let personal responsibilities and relationships fall by the wayside, and that can be a recipe for unhappiness, according to experts.
2. How Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD Can Spring from Poor Physical Health
As though a lack of proper sleep was not bad enough for people suffering from an injury or illness, anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can often lurk in the background when we experience physical health problems, taking hold when we're least able to deal with them.
Because poor physical health can lead to deep concerns about our well-being and our ability to achieve our life goals, and because trauma related to injuries or illnesses can manifest themselves panic attacks and flashbacks, to put it another way, it is often the case that feelings of intense anxiety follow naturally from physical illness. It's a vicious circle that affects an enormous number of people on a daily basis.
3. Discussing the Problem with Others
One of the most difficult aspects of experiencing mental health issues related to physical health is the stigma around discussing the problem with others. For many people, talking about mental health usually helps the conditions they experience, however.
Indeed, holding in feelings about health can often make people feel worse; conversely, a healthy and forthright discussion about the emotions around feelings of anxiety or depression with friends or loved ones can often make such problems far more tolerable. It isn't always easy to discuss sensitive issues such as these with people we know, but the rewards will often make the process of venting or "getting it all out" worth it.
4. Getting the Old You Back
Being open about how we feel about health issues is certainly important, but when speaking with a physician, it is also important to address concerns about life interests and passions in light of physical health problems is important. When we give up the things that give our lives meaning, it becomes easier to amplify feelings of anxiety, trauma, and depression.
Indeed, physical health ailments often strike at the heart of who we are as people because they take away our ability to do things that we're passionate about, making the recovery process that much more difficult. Fortunately, there are ways of combating the negative thinking patterns that arise in the wake of physical health problems and remaining active in the activities that we love.
As physicians and mental health professionals are discovering more and more with each passing year, the links between physical and mental health are deeply intertwined. For people suffering from an illness or injury, the jolt to one's mental health can sometimes be just as bad if not worse than the original ailment, but with an open attitude and clear communication with trusted professionals, things can get better.
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