I like humor as you might have guessed from reading and watching the self-image video clip on my last post. Humor is a great defense mechanism for many of us. We’ll be talking about defenses and coping strategies in the future.
I wanted to encourage discussion about our physical selves. Physical health problems can mimic, cause, or exacerbate mental health problems. Mood changes, depression, low energy, anxiety, insomnia, irritation, and memory loss can be caused by physical illnesses. As health care consumers, we need to know some things about our bodies.
The following information might be common knowledge to a segment of readers. But, for those who aren’t medically oriented or familiar with disease prevention strategies, here’s a list of things to know about your body.
- Family history. What kinds of physical and mental health issues run in your family? We can’t pick our genes, but we can influence how those genes are expressed.
- Blood pressure. Know what your numbers are, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Below 120/80 is the current recommendation.
- Thyroid function. Hypo or hyperthyroidism mimics many mental health conditions. The blood tests to ask for include TSH and Free T4. It’s worth a Google search before you see your medical doctor to help you understand the basics of the thyroid gland.
- Vitamin D. This is also a popular topic worth investigating. Low levels can cause depression, fatigue and bone density loss. The blood test to request is called 25(OH) D. Here are a couple of websites that offer information about vitamin D.
- Age appropriate health screening tests. Certain screening tests are recommended at different ages. These health screening guidelines change if you have a family history of a particular health problem. Here’s a link describing basic screenings for various age groups.
When you see a mental health therapist, he/she will want to rule out any medical conditions that might be causing your emotional symptoms. Sometimes when a physical illness is corrected the mental health problem is as well. It’s worth getting a clean bill of physical health before you seek mental health therapy.
What’s been your experience with physical illness impacting your mental health?
Information provided on this site is meant to complement and not replace advice or information from your primary medical provider.