Physical Health Related to Mental Health

It just so happens, anxiety and depression are not solely indicative of a mental health disorder. Sometimes, these dark sentiments are actually symptoms of physical medical issues. It's a fine line, as symptoms of mood disorders and physical health issues unravel in such similar ways. Here are resources for a few different health issues that can easily be mistaken for serious mood disorders or other mental health disorders.  Click on the topics below for more resources.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss (or lack of appropriate weight gain in growing children); difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature; and, in many individuals, distorted body image. People with anorexia generally restrict the number of calories and the types of food they eat. Some people with the disorder also exercise compulsively, purge via vomiting and laxatives, and/or binge eat.

Anorexia can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, and ethnicities. Historians and psychologists have found evidence of people displaying symptoms of anorexia for hundreds or thousands of years.

Although the disorder most frequently begins during adolescence, an increasing number of children and older adults are also being diagnosed with anorexia. You cannot tell if a person is struggling with anorexia by looking at them. A person does not need to be emaciated or underweight to be struggling. Studies have found that larger-bodied individuals can also have anorexia, although they may be less likely to be diagnosed due to cultural prejudice against fat and obesity.

The body is generally resilient at coping with the stress of eating disordered behaviors, and laboratory tests can generally appear perfect even as someone is at high risk of death. Electrolyte imbalances can kill without warning; so can cardiac arrest. Therefore, it's incredibly important to understand the many ways that eating disorders affect the body.

If you are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 988 or continue to contact Crisis Text Line by texting "NEDA" to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at Crisis Text Line.

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Considering that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is characterized mainly by poor sleep, memory loss, lack of concentration and extreme lack of energy, it's easy to see why CFS is so easily confused for depression.

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Lyme Disease

As it results from a tick bite, the bite can so often go unnoticed, that this disease is rather insidious by nature. Lyme Disease's symptoms vary from cognitive decline, depression, headaches, dizziness, and great fatigue. Note: Isolate the tick, if caught, and get tested immediately if the tick remains on the bite for over 24-hours.

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea can cause excess daytime fatigue and an inability to get sufficient rejuvenation from sleep. This can cause attention issues, moodiness, irritability, depression, and anxiety. Symptoms to also be on the lookout for are weight gain, snoring and high blood pressure.

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PANS stands for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. According to the PANS Research Consortium comprised of physicians and researchers from institutions such as Stanford, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and National Institute of Mental Health, PANS is a clinical diagnosis requiring OCD and/or restrictive food intake as well as two or more of the following symptoms: anxiety, emotional lability, depression, irritability, aggression, severely oppositional behaviors, behavioral or developmental regression, deterioration in school performance, handwriting, or math skills, sensory abnormalities, sleep disturbances, enuresis, and urinary frequency.

PANDAS is the acronym for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections. PANDAS is a subset of PANS. Guidelines for diagnosing PANDAS include Presence of OCD and/or tics, Symptoms begin between age three and puberty, Acute-onset and episodic (relapsing-remitting) course, Association with Group A Streptococcal (GAS) infection, Association with Neurological Abnormalities.

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Yet another serious reminder of why frequent STI testing is so necessary. Syphilis can cause an infection in the spinal cord or in the brain, resulting in a severe neurocognitive disorder. This disease can alter one's personality, hinder one's memory, elevate states of confusion and lead to severe depressive thoughts.

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Thyroid Disorder

The symptoms stemming from a thyroid disorder are so alarmingly similar to a state of depression that it would be wise if a thyroid blood test were administered whenever issues of depression are suspected. Thyroid levels can very easily alter one's overall quality of life, disrupting energy levels and mood.

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Vitamin Deficiencies and Mental Health

Vitamins play a vital role in mental health. There are 13 types of vitamins including:

  • Vitamin A
  • B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

The absence of some vitamins and nutrients in your diet could lead to some mental health issues. That's why it's important to know the types of vitamins linked to mental health and how they affect the human brain. Vitamins are types of nutrients found in food.

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