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11 Physical Symptoms of Mental Illnesses


They say when the mind suffers the body cries out, and there’s truth based in medical science. Problems with mental health can affect your physical health in adverse ways, and in some cases a chronic health condition can cause mental problems such as depression.

Studies have shown that mental illnesses can manifest themselves in a variety of ways physically, as well as changing behavior (risk-taking and improper diet) that can impact overall health and lead to complications or a shortened lifespan. Here are eleven physical symptoms that may be attached to a mental illness…

1. Obesity

A post on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website explains that those with severe mental illness (SMI) such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia may be at higher risk for attaining unhealthy body mass, reading as 30 or higher on a body mass index (BMI).

It adds that those with schizophrenia are up to 3.5-times more likely to become obese, while those with major depression or bipolar disorder are at 1.5-times increased risk for obesity. The weight gain is traced to lifestyle factors such as less exercise, although medications (such as antipsychotics) to treat these illnesses can also be a contributor, notes the post.

weight gain

2. Fatigue

The Mayo Clinic said mental illness can be more than just feelings of sadness or distress. They may cause you to feel “significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping” according to the source.

Of course, insomnia will likely only lead to feeling more tired. Depression and chronic fatigue syndrome are often mistaken for each other, but can also exist at the same time, points out other sources. It’s important to let a doctor make that call to properly treat it.

fatigue

3. Chronic Pain

Those little aches or pains (or worse) can actually be tied to a mental condition. While pain can cause depression, the feelings of sadness can intensify this pain. As Harvard Medical School points out, “Hurting bodies and suffering minds often require the same treatment.”

The school also notes that those with chronic pain are at 3-times higher risk for developing psychiatric problems, while those with depression are 3-times more likely to develop associated chronic pain.

neck pain

4. Tics and Twitches

Tics are said to be a controllable response to an urge to contract muscles, while twitches are generally involuntary spasms. Calm Clinic points to the connection between mental suffering and twitches from anxiety affecting “something as small as a finger or as large as your entire leg.”

The clinic also points out that in many cases, muscle twitches can lead a person to believe there’s a bigger problem, which in turn creates more anxiety. While muscle twitching “is absolutely a sign of anxiety”, in some cases it can suggest MS or nerve damage. If it persists, have it checked out by a medical professional.

anxiety

5. Sinus Problems

Psychology Today explains in a 2014 article that chronic sinus issues have been linked to depression. It notes that up to 1-quarter of people with chronic sinusitis–inflammation of the sinuses–also are affected by depression.

Sinusitis itself can be troublesome, as it causes feelings of always being “stuffed up” or causing pressure in the facial area. This is another case where depression can trigger a physical ailment, which in turn intensifies your feelings of sadness, making the ailment tougher to cope with.

sinus pain

6. Nausea

Feeling sick to your stomach often may be a sign that your mind is not doing its best, according to a ScienceDaily release. The post, which is now more than a decade old, explains that people who are susceptible to nausea should get checked out for anxiety or depression before aggressive treatments for gastric problems are used.

The findings were based on a study in Norway involving 62,000 subjects. While 48-percent of respondents noted they had some gastrointestinal complaints, a

nausea

7. Weight Loss

In contrast to obesity, it is not uncommon for individuals with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety to lose weight without even trying. Individuals with anxiety and depression disorders often cause individuals to lose the desire they once had for things they find enjoyable – even food.

Psychiatrist Keith Humphreys, MD at Stanford Health Care states that disorders like depression often disrupt our hormones that tell us when we are hungry and when we are full. Some individuals may not receive signals of hunger when suffering from depression.

8. Headaches

A study done by General Hospital Psychiatry found that migraines and mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorder are highly related. The study found that both migraines and mental disorders show low activity of enzymes that are responsible for deactivating certain chemical messages to the brain.

Frederick Taylor, MD, found that depression and anxiety affect 83% of individuals who suffer from migraines and severe headaches.

9. Irritated Skin

A study done in Norway in the Department of Adult Psychiatry at the Aalesund Hospital, found that there is an association between low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in females are associated with both depression and eczema.

However, the reason that depression or anxiety may cause conditions like eczema or acne to worsen is actually due to the fact that mental illnesses increase stress which releases the stress hormone cortisol. WebMD states that Cortisol will result in the skin producing more oil which in turn will produce more acne. Stress may also produce hives, skin rashes or worsen conditions like psoriasis.

10. Cavities

This next condition is more of a side effect rather than a symptom, but there is a link between depression and cavities. The reason this is a side effect is because individuals suffering from mental illnesses such as depression often find everyday tasks rather difficult and potentially skip them altogether.

Also, a study done by the Academy of General Dentistry found that medications used for depression and anxiety may cause dry mouth, cavities and gum disease. Doctors stress the extra importance of oral hygiene for patients taking antidepressants.

11. Adrenaline Rush

If you’ve ever had an anxiety attack, you know they are absolutely awful! Anxiety attacks are often triggered mentally but felt physically. An article written by nopanic.org.uk, states that, “when the body is very anxious, the nervous system gives a signal to release adrenaline…the body activates the fight or flight response to get us ready to face danger, to run or fight.”

During this surge of adrenaline, individuals will feel their heart rate increase and feel heart palpitations, shorter and faster breaths, dizziness, chest pains, chills or hot flashes and muscle tenseness to name a few.

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