The Long-Term Impact of Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues can have a long-term impact on an individual's life, from causing chronic fatigue and irritability to increasing the risk of physical illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's. Research also suggests that people with depression may be more likely to develop osteoporosis. Mental health and physical health are closely linked, and people living with serious mental illness are at greater risk for a range of chronic physical conditions. Coexisting mental and physical conditions can decrease quality of life and lead to a longer duration of illness and worse health outcomes.

The same factors that increase the risk of depression in otherwise healthy people also increase the risk in people with other medical conditions, especially if those diseases are chronic. People with untreated depression are also at greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, engaging in reckless or abusive behavior, and suicide. The cover-up of the diagnosis can mask psychiatric complaints, especially with regard to the development of mild to moderate mental illness. The World Health Organization has reported that four of the ten leading causes of disability in the United States and other developed countries are mental disorders.

Untreated mental health conditions can result in unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, improper incarceration, and suicide, as well as a poor quality of life. It is important to take steps to intervene in time to prevent long-term effects. Communicating well with your doctor or healthcare provider can improve your care and help you both make good decisions about your health. People living in poverty with chronic physical conditions are at risk of developing mental health problems and may face barriers to accessing mental health care, contributing to exacerbating mental health problems.

Californians are more than five times more likely to be forced to leave the network to receive mental health care than to receive primary health care, making it more difficult to find care and less affordable due to higher out-of-pocket costs. Read NIMH tips for talking to your healthcare provider to prepare for your appointment and get the most out of it. Use these free digital outreach materials in your community and on social media to spread information about mental health. All too often, mental illnesses go undetected and cause prolonged feelings of pain, sadness, discomfort, loneliness and weakness.

Nikki Swancutt
Nikki Swancutt

Lifelong beer practitioner. Friendly social media advocate. Proud twitter fanatic. Unapologetic pop culture lover. Wannabe communicator.

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