Why do mental health challenges like anxiety and depression produce such debilitating physical effects, and what can you do to treat them?
At Mariposa Center, a mental health and substance abuse treatment non-profit in Orange County, we’ve seen how closely mental health challenges are linked to physical symptoms – and the transformational impact that treating the former can have on the latter.
Physical Symptoms of Mental Health Challenges
Two of the most common mental health challenges today, both in Southern California and nationwide, are anxiety and depression.
Anxiety manifests in the mind as feelings of acute worry or fear. It can also generate physical symptoms that include rapid breathing and heartbeat, stomach pain, muscle pain, insomnia, and other challenges. These symptoms can be even more intense during high-anxiety episodes or panic attacks and can lead to hyperventilation or loss of consciousness.
Similarly, depression is a common but serious mood disorder associated with negative emotions and feelings of low self-worth. Physically, however, depression has been linked to challenges like fatigue, poor sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, sexual dysfunction, and other complaints.
Finally, and frustratingly, the physical manifestations of these mental struggles can create a vicious feedback loop that makes those who are suffering feel trapped. Severe depression or anxiety intensifies the negative physical feelings, which further destabilizes mental wellness.
Long-Term Physical Effects of Mental Health Challenges
Anxiety and depression can also have long-term impacts on physical health and longevity, especially if those challenges remain untreated for long periods.
Depression, for example, has been linked to maladies ranging from slower illness recovery to hypertension, strokes, and heart attacks. Over time, anxiety can also increase the risk of heart disease and contribute to diabetes, ulcers, and chronic pain.
Overcoming these obstacles can be daunting. But it’s important to note that the link between physical symptoms and mental health challenges works both ways. Mental wellness and treatment services can reduce physical symptoms. Treatment can also break the feedback loop that holds the mind hostage.
The Physical Benefits of Mental Wellness
As you might expect, pursuing mental wellness can be a turning point on the road to a healthier mind and body.
At Mariposa Center, our counseling services for depression, anxiety, and other mental wellness needs are designed to uncover and treat the underlying challenges that contribute to these physical symptoms.
Individuals and families who choose Mariposa for treatment can increase their resilience and improve their coping skills, producing an inner strength that restores energy for daily life.
“The services we provide here at Mariposa – our whole mission, really – is to help people reclaim their lives and become their best selves. The pivot to mental wellness usually goes hand-in-hand with feeling better physically, and healthy choices for the body and mind contribute to lasting and holistic improvements.”Tina Rossi, LCSW; CalWORKs Behavioral Health Services Program Director
A healthy and rejuvenated outlook on life can also be the foundation for rebuilding and fortifying social connections. New research shows that those connections can have a significant impact on longevity and quality of life as we age.
In the end, mental wellness treatment isn’t just the right choice for a healthier mind. Dealing with anxiety and depression can also make your body feel better – and even help you live longer.