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How Does Mental Illness Affect the Body?


Mental illnesses are often viewed as disorders that impact our thoughts and emotions, rather than disorders with physical symptoms and implications. Today, we know that the body is a finely tuned, interconnected machine. The illnesses that affect our thoughts and feelings also impact our bodies. When we take a holistic view of mental illness, we’re more likely to uncover solutions that contribute to true and lasting recovery.

A combination of interventions designed to treat the entire system can lead to a happy, healthier life.

When we focus solely on our feelings and treat them separately from the other dimensions of health, we limit our ability to effectively address mental illness. Studies have shown that regular exercise, for example, can be an effective tool against depression, especially when combined with other interventions. Patients entering treatment will often find incredible support from medical professionals who can aid in healing the body. Doctors can provide not only medical care for acute and chronic health conditions, but education about ongoing health issues as well. Our minds do not function in a vacuum. We have to address the physical contributors just as much as the mental ones.

Our mental health concerns are not only influenced by physical factors – they can also manifest in physical ways.

Co-occurring and mental health disorders can lead to exhaustion, fatigue, insomnia, sleep paralysis, and other sleep-related issues. Those of us with these diagnoses may lose our appetites and find ourselves losing weight without intending to. Similarly, we may overeat or gain weight easily, causing additional health concerns. Eating disorders – which take a severe emotional and physical toll on the body – often co-occur with other mental health illnesses. A decline in mental health can also contribute to chronic pain and discomfort, including tension in our muscles, headaches, and back pain. This can lead to self-medication and even substance use disorders. It is important that people with previous mental health diagnoses pay close attention to decreases in energy levels, stamina, athletic performance, or libido. These can signal chemical changes within our brains as well as our bodies.

Understanding all of the manifestations of mental illness, including the physical ones, can bring us one step closer to understanding ourselves. Ultimately, this can help us heal on a cellular level as we work towards recovery.

Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, co-occurring disorders, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs,

call us today:  561-841-1296

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If you or someone you love has a substance use or mental health disorder, Origins Behavioral HealthCare can help. We will work alongside you to provide the most comprehensive treatment available.