11 Mental Health Symptoms That Affect us Physically

declining mental health

Declining mental health can negatively affect your physical health.

Research shows that declining mental health can even change your behaviour, for example, increase risk-taking and poor choices as well as impact negatively on what you choose to eat and how often. A chronic health condition can cause mental health decline manifesting itself into illness such as depression.

All can lead to decreased physical health and ultimately a shorter life.

In this post, we present 11 symptoms that are the result of declining mental health.

  1. Weight Loss
  2. Obesity
  3. Headaches
  4. Fatigue
  5. Adrenaline Rush
  6. Chronic Pain
  7. Irritated Skin
  8. Tics and Twitches
  9. Sinus Problems
  10. Nausea
  11. Cavities

1. Weight Loss

When you feel anxious or depressed, for some people the mere thought of food makes them feel sick.

It is not uncommon for individuals with declining mental health to lose weight without even trying. Depression often causes individuals to lose the desire they once had for things they used to find enjoyable.

Disorders like depression often disrupt the hormones that tell us when we are hungry and when we are full and some people may not receive the signals for hunger.

“Hormones commonly disrupted by depression tell us when we are hungry and when we have had enough to eat. As a result, many people with depression eat too much or too little,” 

– Keith Humphreys, MD at Stanford Health Care.

Recommended reading: Circles of Recovery, Keith Humphreys PhD

2. Increased Weight and Obesity

In contrast to weight loss, those with severe mental illness, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, may be at higher risk of gaining weight at obese levels with BMI’s of 30 or higher.

Those with schizophrenia are up to 3.5 times more likely to become obese, while those with major depression or bipolar disorder are at 1.5 times increased risk for obesity.

The weight gain is traced to lifestyle factors such as less exercise, although medications (such as antipsychotics) to treat these illnesses can also be a contributor.

Recommended reading: Physical illness in patients with severe mental disorders

3. Frequent Headaches

Frederick Taylor, MD at General Hospital Psychiatry in the UK, conducted a study that found that declining mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety affect 83% of individuals who suffer from migraines and severe headaches.

The study found that both migraines and mental disorders show the low activity of enzymes that are responsible for deactivating key chemical messages to the brain. Other research shows that the link is even stronger for those who experience migraines with aura (the flashing lights or stars some people see when they have a migraine).

“Not only can depression lead to headaches, but depression is also frequently seen in patients with migraine headaches,”

– Padam Bhatia, MD, a psychiatrist and co-founder of the Center for Mind and Wellness in Miami.

4. Tiredness and Fatigue

Declining mental health can lead to feeling significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping.

People suffering from insomnia are on an ever-increasing cycle that only leads them to feel even more tired. Depression and chronic fatigue syndrome are often mistaken for each other, but can also exist at the same time.

“One of the classic symptoms of depression involves ‘terminal insomnia’—waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep,”

– Padam Bhatia, MD, a psychiatrist and co-founder of the Center for Mind and Wellness in Miami.

Recommended reading: 10 Ways to Prevent Insomnia

5. Panic Attacks

Declining mental health can have us showing symptoms of anxiety such as panic attacks. When a panic attack occurs, it triggers the body to release adrenaline and the body activates the fight or flight response to get us ready to face danger, to run or fight.

Physical symptoms include feeling heart rate increases and palpitations, shorter and faster breaths, dizziness, chest pains, chills or hot flashes and muscle tenseness.

6. Chronic Pain Symptoms

Harvard Medical School notes that those with chronic pain are at 3-times higher risk for developing declining mental health, while those with depression are 3-times more likely to develop associated chronic pain.

“Pain is modulated by mood, and vice versa, someone who is happy may not feel pain to the extent that someone with depression does,”

Padam Bhatia, MD, a psychiatrist and co-founder of the Center for Mind and Wellness in Miami.

Recommended reading: The Link Between Inflammation Pain and Depression

7. Rashes, Eczema and Acne

There is an association between low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in women are associated with both depression and eczema and acne.

Increased stress symptoms and a release of the stress hormone cortisol for people with declining mental health also can result in the skin producing more oil. Stress may also produce hives, skin rashes or worsen conditions like psoriasis.

Recommended reading: The Hodaland Health Study

8. Tics and Muscle Twitches

There is a connection between increased tics and twitches for people with declining mental health.

In many cases, muscle twitches can lead a person to believe there’s a bigger problem, which in turn creates more anxiety. Muscle twitching “is absolutely a sign of anxiety”.

9. Sinus Problems

A recent article in Psychology Today reported that chronic sinus issues are linked to depression.

The study notes that up to 25% of people with chronic sinusitis–inflammation of the sinuses–also are affected by depression.

The symptoms may trigger or worsen depression in several ways:

  • As the weeks drag on, the discomfort may take a toll. If you’re prone to depression, the added stress may make it worse.
  • Many people with chronic sinusitis have allergies. Studies show that allergies and depression may be linked, most likely through inflammation-promoting immune substances that are released during an allergy attack.
  • Sleep problems are common in people with chronic sinusitis, and lack of good-quality sleep may further impact on mood.

Recommended reading: Chronic Sinus Problems Are Linked to Depression

10. Nausea

People who are susceptible to nausea should get checked out for anxiety or depression before aggressive treatments for gastric problems are used.

Nausea, heartburn, constipation, and diarrhea have all been linked to depression—and the symptoms may be even worse for someone who also has an anxiety disorder.

“The gut is exquisitely responsive to our mood states. In fact, there is a great overlap between depression and [conditions] like irritable bowel syndrome,

– Padam Bhatia, MD, a psychiatrist and co-founder of the Center for Mind and Wellness in Miami.

Recommended reading: Nausea Sometimes A Red Flag For Anxiety And Depression

11. Dry Mouth, Cavities and Gum Disease

There is a link between depression and poor oral health that can lead to increased cavities. People with declining mental health such as depression often find everyday tasks difficult and potentially many skip them altogether.

Medications used to treat depression and anxiety may also cause dry mouth, cavities and gum disease.

“Depression often robs people of the ability to engage in self-care—for example, eating properly, managing chronic conditions, and taking care of daily hygiene including brushing and flossing teeth”.

Recommended reading:  The oral health of people with anxiety and depressive disorders

What Can You Do?

In our next post, we will be sharing 9 self-care strategies you can use to make the days (and nights) a little easier.

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