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The Connection between Emotional Health and Overall Health

By HERWriter
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Physical health and emotional health are inextricably linked. Researchers have been studying this connection, trying to find ways of analyzing, measuring and monitoring exactly how one affects the other. Doctors and patients alike have seen the effects of too much unrelieved stress or sleep deprivation on a person’s physical body.

This article—indeed, the next three articles—will delve further into this issue.

An Unhealthy Mind / An Unhealthy Body

"75 to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians result from stress-related disorders." (Paul Rosch, M.D., President, American Institute of Stress)

Even though we all know our physical health can be adversely affected by poor emotional health, unfortunately, many people don’t realize that keeping themselves healthy emotionally needs to be done on a day-to-day, almost moment-to-moment basis. Only when we can no longer function at work, at home or at school—we’ve pushed ourselves to the very limits of what our mind and body can handle—do we stop and take a look at managing those things that are taxing our mental resources.

Maintaining stable emotionality presents an even greater challenge when there is a chronic psychological or psychiatric issue such as chronic fatigue syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, or post-partum depression.

What are Emotions?

Emotions are how our bodies respond to events, circumstances, interpersonal interactions, and our own thoughts and memories, whether we are conscious of them or not. So long as those emotions remain unresolved, life will be stressful and our physical bodies will eventually feel the effects.

Practical Examples of Emotional/Physical Health Link

One example of how our emotions and physical health are linked is what happens to our sleeping patterns when we are stressed.

Add a Comment6 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Ummm. I'm sure you didn't mean to stir up a hornet's nest, but please don't refer to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a psychiatric condition. There is a very substantial body of research from leading institutions showing that this is a neuroimmune condition, likely caused by a virus, and causing severe physical debilitation. It has nothing to do with psychiatry and is no more psychological than AIDS. I am only writing because it is so important that the misinformation about this illness be stopped. The condition has an unfortunate name which brings a lot of misunderstanding with it.

July 6, 2010 - 5:33pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

As Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is on my list of topics to cover, I will probably come across that information then. I wouldn't have known that information off the top of my head. As for now, thank you for the clarification.

Regardless of its classification and causes, it will still affect a person's emotional health and physical health.

July 6, 2010 - 6:04pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Darlene Oakley)

Thanks for your response, Darlene. When you do cover CFS, please take a look at the Canadian Case Definition, which is an excellent consensus document by a panel of CFS experts, clarifying the symptoms and research findings on CFS.
-Agatha Andrews

July 6, 2010 - 6:38pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you, Agatha. I'm always interested in Canadian research. Thank you for pointing that source out. I'm sure it would have come up in an internet search, but if not I will seek it out as I prepare to write the article.

July 6, 2010 - 7:33pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Darlene Oakley)

Darlene, you are absolutely correct. There is a psychosocial overlay to pretty much any organic disease, but it is not necessarily causative. For the record, the World Health Organization has classifies Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as an organic brain disease (ICD-10 G93.3 pg 528 2006 alphabetical index) along with myalgic encephalomyelitis and post viral fatigue syndrome.

Since you presumably write about empowering women you might want to read the Winter 2010 issue of Ms. for a well-informed look at CFS by Dr. Nancy Klimas, a world-renowned CFS expert. She notes that multiple sclerosis was once called "hysterical paralysis," and thought to be psychogenic also.

As scientific knowledge expands, many diseases once thought to be caused by "bad air" or "blood" or even psychogenic have turned out to be organic caused by viruses, toxins, bacteria or parasites. CFS is one of those.

July 6, 2010 - 6:35pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for that information. I will keep that in mind when lining up research for that topic.

July 6, 2010 - 7:31pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.