May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a great time to understand how mental and physical health are related. In fact, unmanaged anxiety, for example, may impact sleep, activity level and diet. This can diminish our immune system and our body’s ability to protect against illness.
Sometimes, chronic headaches, shoulder pain, nausea, chest tightness, or difficulties breathing have less to do with our physical health and more with our mental health. Ignoring physical and emotional sensations, particularly after they have been around for a while, can negatively affect health. Conditions such as anxiety or depression can sometimes lead to obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure, to name a few.
As a result, it is important to stay in touch with emotions, thinking patterns and behavioral habits. Doing so boosts resilience, can lower anxiety or depression, improve symptom management and lead to better outcomes.
Everyone experiences stress. However, we must be mindful and self-aware. It is important to recognize when stress crosses over from the healthy, adaptive kind to more unhealthy or maladaptive stress. Generally, that happens when high levels of stress intensify, persist, or exceed our ability to effectively cope and function.
Seek Help for Your Mental and Physical Health
The connection between physical and mental health is a vital one and often underestimated or poorly understood. You do not need to wait to feel depressed or anxious, or have chronic pain, or insomnia, to seek help. It is incredibly reassuring and validating to seek help from a mental health professional. With help, one could learn that a particular set of symptoms or feelings are quite “normal” under certain circumstances.
Healthcare Network’s integrated care model offers mental and behavioral health screening and consultation as part of comprehensive primary care. When additional treatment is needed, our new Center for Psychology and Wellness at Nichols Community Health Center is available. It offers behavioral health services for children, adolescents, adults and seniors in person or via telehealth. Services are offered in English Spanish and Haitian Creole without a physician referral.
It is important to know when to reach out for help. Seeking behavioral health services does not mean something is wrong with you or a problem lies within you. Sometimes, the problem lies in life and the state of one’s current world. Behavioral health services are for anyone who needs help finding some new perspectives or strategies to cope.