The Link Between Your Brain And Your Body

Palms sweating, heart racing, struggling to get a deep breath: these are all ways in which feeling overwhelmed or stressed can cause physical symptoms. For most people, there’s no surprise that mental health challenges can cause physical symptoms. Consider these 5 ways mental health affects physical health.

center for family medicine 5 Ways Your Mental Health Can Cause Physical Symptoms

1. Severe headaches

Mental stress increases levels of cortisol and adrenaline, the physical markers of stress. Sometimes, this can manifest in the body. Ever heard of a tension headache? For some people, mental stress can lead to chronic headaches or migraines. There may be reasons for headaches that are not related to mental health, so always check with a healthcare provider.

2. Digestive issues

Diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be triggered when a person feels overwhelmed or distressed. Alternatively, people may feel stomach pains or a loss of appetite when overly anxious or stressed.

3. Difficulty sleeping

Both depression and anxiety can lead to insomnia. People struggling with anxiety may experience an inability to turn the brain off at night. Instead, people may sit awake imagining worst-case scenarios or stressing over the next day’s to-do list. Sometimes, journaling before bed can help people process and quiet these racing thoughts. Some people may also benefit from taking supplements such as melatonin or magnesium to aid with sleep.

4. Increased aches and pains

Surprisingly, depression is correlated with increased physical pain for many patients. This is because the abnormal functioning of neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals responsible for moods, can lead to increased pain sensitivity. People struggling with depression often report feeling more back or neck pain and have difficulty finding the motivation to stretch or exercise to relieve pain.

5. Chronic fatigue

Excessive stress, depression, and other mental health challenges can lead to constant feelings of sluggishness. Chronic fatigue is more than just feeling sleepy. People who are chronically fatigued may struggle to get out of bed in the morning or find the motivation to complete simple everyday tasks. People may not have the energy to work normal hours, exercise, or spend time with family.

Find mental health help

Many people think that having a mental illness is the only reason to seek mental health help. The fact is that many people can benefit from professional help in managing stress or coping with negative emotions more effectively. For more information or to seek mental health help, speak with a healthcare provider.