Mental and physical health are inextricably linked. Poor mental health can lead to physical health problems, and vice versa. Research has shown that nearly one in three people with a long-term physical health condition also has a mental health problem, most often depression or anxiety. It is important to understand the pathways that lead from one to the other in order to better manage both mental and physical health. A study conducted by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing used data from 10,693 people aged 50 years or older from six waves (2002-2001).
Mental health was measured by the Depression Scale (CES) of the Center for Epidemiological Studies and physical health through Activities of Daily Living (ADL). The results showed significant direct and indirect effects for both forms of health, with indirect effects explaining 10% of the effect of past mental health on physical health and 8% of the effect of past physical health on mental health. Physical activity was found to contribute the most to indirect effects. The indirect effects were stronger in men on mental health (9.9%) and in older age groups on mental health (13.6%) and physical health (12.6%). This suggests that when it comes to improving both mental and physical health, lifestyle choices should be taken into consideration. Positive psychological well-being can reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes, while people with psoriasis experience emotional and psychological distress that negatively affects their overall health and quality of life.
Mental health problems are also more likely to lead to smoking, with those affected smoking more cigarettes than those without mental health problems. It is important to remember that just because someone in your immediate family has a mental or physical health condition doesn't mean that you, too, are destined to develop symptoms. However, research shows that specific physical conditions are more likely to have comorbid mental health conditions. If you're concerned about your genetic or environmental predisposition to a mental or physical health condition, talk to your doctor or a licensed mental health professional. Making healthy lifestyle choices can help improve life satisfaction and reduce psychological distress. Additionally, some of the connections between mental and physical health can be a side effect of medications or treatment.
It is essential to prioritize both your mental and physical health in order to maintain overall well-being.