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The Physical Side of Mental Health: Mind and Body

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When we think of mental health, we think just of that. Mental; in our heads. But what often goes hand in hand with mental health struggles, are the physical reactions our bodies have. Here at Selfish Darling, we have talked about emotional pain and listening to your body before, so we are well acquainted with understating just how important the connection between our mind and body is.

Mental health hurts.

Mind and body

Our brain and body are constantly sending message back and forth to keep us healthy and safe and determines the way we react to things. A lot of the time, we’re aware of these connections. Having a stressful time might give you a headache, nerves make you nauseous and being angry can make you feel hot and tense. We can feel our body reacting to external and internal stimuli, triggering a response.

The way our minds and bodies link is a pretty fascinating subject, by the way. If you’re curious to know why stress gives you spots or being sad gives your stomach ache. Your brain registers pain, and instantly looks for where in the body you might be hurt. Usually the guts get the brunt of it. Poor guts.

Mental health produces these same responses.

For a lot of us, it is the physiological responses our bodies have to issues that make things difficult.

Anxiety

Anxiety can go a lot further than nausea or shaking. Physical responses to anxiety can include:

  • Headaches
  • Chest Pains
  • Sweating
  • Muscle Tension
  • Dizziness
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Vomiting or Diarrhoea
  • Breathlessness or a Choking Feeling

I’ve woken up when my anxiety is bad with an aching jaw from grinding my teeth in my sleep. I also drink a lot of water and subsequently, I am indeed an anxious pee-er (peer?). Feeling tight, tired, achy and sick are usually the ways I even identify that my anxiety is triggered in the first place.

Depression

Often found going hand in hand with anxiety up there, depression can make your body feel pretty much as bad as you do mentally.

  • Insomnia/Fatigue
  • Change in Appetite
  • Digestive Issues
  • General Aching/Pain
  • Feeling tightness around your chest and head
  • Palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Lower Pain Tolerance (if I stub my toe when I’m in a bad time the reaction is honestly Oscar worthy.)
  • Eye Problems (blurry or unable to focus)

Changes in sleep patterns, eating habits and fluctuations in weight are common symptoms of depression. And it’s hard to wrestle with everything going on your head, whilst its also difficult to breathe. Links have been drawn by recent research that shows how depression can manifest as physical pain.

Bipolar Disorder

  • Hyperventilation
  • Insomnia
  • Weight Changes
  • Stomach Aches
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Muscular Aches and Pain
  • Fatigue

Bipolar disorder can have physical affects on the body from sleep patterns to libido, affecting your energy levels and muscles.

Anger

  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Muscle Tension
  • Feeling Hot
  • Sweating
  • Jaw Clenching/Teeth Grinding
  • Headaches/Pressure in head or sinuses
  • Fatigue

in the Long run

All of these physical symptoms can have long lasting affects on your body. Erratic eating habits and sleep schedules, increased heart rates and blood pressures can be really bad for us in the long run. In some cases, it can lead to eating disorders or substance abuse, so listen to your body when it tells you something and do what you can to heal.

There are ways of managing the physical sides of mental health issues or triggers, but as always, seeking help for the root cause is the best thing to do.

“When you shut down emotion, you’re also affecting your immune system, your nervous system. So, the repression of emotions, which is a survival strategy, then becomes a source of physiological illness later on.” – Gabor Maté

Migraines, sort throat, teeth grinding, skin reactions, twitching, tightness in the chest or throat and a general feeling or soreness and tension; our bodies are good at telling us that something is wrong. Listen to it.

If someone you know is struggling with their mental health, take into account how that is affecting them physically as well.

Do you have any physical symptoms to mental health that we haven’t included? Let us know!

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