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There is a fundamental link between physical and mental health. The connections between chronic physical conditions and mental health play a significant role in an individual’s quality of life.

According to the World Health Organization, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”… “there is no health without mental health”.

Associations between Physical and Mental Health

The relationship between physical well-being and mental health is most evident in chronic conditions. The associations between physical and mental health are as follows:

  • Poor mental health is a major risk factor for chronic physical conditions.
  • People who suffer from serious mental health conditions have a high risk of chronic physical conditions.
  • People who suffer from chronic physical conditions have a high risk of developing mental health problems.

Social determinants have an effect on both mental health and physical conditions. There are important aspects of prevention, which include access to nutritious foods, physical activity, ensuring that there is adequate income, fostering social support and inclusion and knowledge. With these, opportunities are created to strengthen protective factors and lower risk factors that are linked to aspects of physical and mental health.

Chronic physical illness and depression are in a reciprocal relationship with each other. Many chronic illnesses not only cause a higher rate of depression, but some chronic physical conditions have shown to be antedated by this mental illness.

In 2009, a study was conducted on patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and it was found that 22 percent of the patients suffered from mild depression, which is defined on the Beck Depression Inventory as a score of 14 or more. 17 percent of the participants were taking antidepressants. According to the researchers, depression is an independent determinant of quality of life related to health of the patients.

According to experts, patients with a chronic disease have a depression rate that is close to three times higher than the normal rate.

Research has shown that one of the best ways to relieve poor mental health is to improve physical well-being through exercise. Rigorous exercise may not be necessary; for instance a short walk every day can make a world of difference. There is no doubt that a body that is physically fit can lead to a mind that is mentally fit, and vice versa.

Knowledge is often overlooked, even in ideal situations. Access to healthy food options certainly makes an impact on health, however so does the ability to identify and discern which types of food are best for your body. Did you know, “eating right” does not have the same meaning for everyone? Green apples may be helpful in digestion for some while for others, strawberries are better. This is a direct result of the person’s genetic make-up. The answers are in your DNA.