The Holistic Reality About Mental Health

When listening to people discussing mental health, the impression can be made that mental and physical health are separate concerns. In reality, the opposite is true. Left unchecked, mental health can shift from plaguing a person’s thoughts to manifesting through physical conditions that further impact the quality of life. Find out five sneaky ways that mental health can be felt through physical symptoms.

center for family medicine Stress & Your Mental Health: 5 Things That Can Cause Physical Symptoms

1. Constant headaches

No one likes a headache. But for most people, a headache is a temporary nuisance. For other individuals, headaches can be a persistent frustration that makes going about daily life very difficult. Specifically, stress tends to be the main culprit behind tension headaches. A tension headache often feels like a band is around the head. For people that struggle with frequent headaches, learning to manage stress is an important factor towards finding long-term relief.

2. Frequently upset stomach

Just like with headaches, a tummy that hurts from time to time isn’t that strange. But for people struggling to manage stress, digestive problems can be an unwanted and constant companion. Upset stomach symptoms can range from indigestion and stomach cramps to diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and even a total loss of appetite. And if left unchecked, frequent digestive issues can manifest into more serious conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or even ulcers.

3. Eye problems and stress

Vision isn’t immune from being impacted by stress. While most people associate dry eyes and blurry vision from spending too much time staring at screens without a break, stress can also contribute to problems. Along with the above, eye twitching, watery eyes, and headaches can also be present when stress is at play. In extreme cases where stress is left unchecked, temporary eye discomforts could progress into vision loss. According to a study published in 2018, sustained stress and elevated cortisol levels can impact the retina and optic nerve, leading to an autonomous nervous system imbalance and vascular dysregulation.

4. Constant fatigue

Spending all day worrying about problems and life situations is a great way to feel burned out. Constant stress can make getting a good night’s sleep next to impossible, leading to facing the next day feeling exhausted before a person can start the day. A byproduct of stress-induced fatigue can include trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, and struggling with memory recall.

5. Mystery pains

One of the most visceral ways that a body physically expresses stress is with mystery pains. Discomfort can range from random aches and pains to more serious conditions like chest pains. Although there is no definitive study linking stress and physical pain, plenty of research points to a link between increased cortisol levels and the incidence of chronic pain in respondents.

Taking control of stress

Trying to avoid stress completely is an unrealistic goal. But people can learn smart methods to minimize and cope with stress to avoid experiencing physical reactions. Simple but important actions such as eating a balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco, exercising regularly, and creating a healthy sleep schedule can help improve a person’s physical condition. Meanwhile, striving to create a healthy work-life balance and seeking professional help when stress becomes too much to manage alone are smart ways to keep stress under control and protect physical health. For more information about managing mental health, speak with a healthcare provider.