The Link Between Heart Disease and Mental Health Disorders

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for people in the United States. Heart disease includes several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease. Coronary heart disease transpires when the walls of arteries that carry blood to the heart are constricted by plaque.

Many people may not know this, but there is a link between heart disease and mental health disorders. Many people suffer from mental health symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. Mental health symptoms can cause extreme fatigue, inactivity, disruptive eating patterns, and can interfere with daily activities and responsibilities.

A study of more than 221,000 people ages 45 and older without any history of heart disease revealed, on average, “people who had reported high or very high levels of depression and anxiety were more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke than people without those symptoms.” However, according to Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, when a person suffers from psychological distress or mental health symptoms, it does not mean they will develop heart disease. 

How Mental Health Disorders Affect the Heart

Mental health disorders can disrupt every aspect of a person’s life, depending on the severity of symptoms. It affects a person’s mood, behavior, thinking, and ability to socialize with others. Specific mental health symptoms can be debilitating and make it extremely difficult for a person to perform at work or school.

Some mental health disorders can change a person’s eating habits, sleep schedule, and activity level. Depression and PTSD can significantly reduce a person’s motivation and willingness to engage in activities they once enjoyed. Eating unhealthy foods and over-eating can increase a person’s cholesterol, lead to high blood pressure, and cause damage to the heart. This damage creates a significant risk for stroke, heart failure, and abdominal arterial aneurysm. 

People who struggle with mental health disorders are at increased risk of adopting harmful behaviors, such as smoking and failure to take prescribed medications. Many people who drink alcohol also use tobacco products. Alcohol and tobacco are addictive substances that can lead to addiction. They can also cause serious health problems, such as certain types of cancer. One cigarette can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and heavy alcohol use contributes to cardiomyopathy, which is a disorder that affects the heart muscle.

Over an extended period, mental health symptoms can impose physiologicical effects on the body, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced blood flow to the heart, and elevated cortisone levels. These physiologic effects can contribute to a surge of calcium in the arteries, metabolic disease, and heart disease.

Lifestyle Changes to Improve Mental and Physical Health

Living with a mental health condition can be very challenging, especially when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes. The following changes can significantly improve mental and physical health:

  • Eat healthy foods. Maintaining a healthy diet will improve mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote heart health. Good nutrition can improve energy levels, help regulate sleep patterns, and decrease the risk of heart disease.
  • Limit or abstain from alcohol. Since alcohol is a depressant, depression can worsen with alcohol intake because it lowers serotonin levels. Alcohol consumption increases blood pressure, which can contribute to a heart attack or stroke.
  • Exercise regularly. Staying active and exercising regularly will improve anxiety and depression and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It will also improve cognition, including memory and attention. Staying active will give you a better quality of life and sense of wellbeing.
  • Stop smoking. When you stop smoking, you decrease the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Smoking affects every organ in the body and damages cells that line blood vessels. Smoking also lowers good cholesterol and raises fat in the blood known as triglycerides.

Getting Help for Mental Health

Mental health disorders can make every aspect of a person’s life challenging. Deciding to get help can be difficult for many people due to the stigma behind mental health disorders. However, when you take care of your mental health, you can lower the risk of developing heart disease. With the right treatment, you can feel better mentally and physically.

At Achieve Concierge, we take a holistic approach to treatment for healing the mind, body, and spirit for a complete lifestyle balance. We treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar, and other mental health conditions. We offer comprehensive mental health services that can include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, and mindfulness. Sometimes, a patient may need medication and life coaching.

Our team of medical professionals will conduct a full health assessment to determine a treatment plan that works best for your needs. We will help you manage your mental health symptoms and explore healthy ways to cope. We also monitor your progress in our mental health treatment program and can adjust treatment if necessary. Our program wants to give you the tools to safely and effectively manage mental health symptoms so you can enjoy a fulfilling, healthy, balanced lifestyle.


People who suffer from mental health disorders are at increased risk of developing severe health complications, such as heart disease or stroke. At Achieve Concierge, we offer same-day, in-person mental health services so patients can get help quickly and effectively. We work with our patients to develop the best plan to manage mental health symptoms. Our team of expert clinicians is prepared to plan the best treatment strategies for you. Every person who struggles with mental health symptoms responds differently to treatment and medication. At Achieve Concierge, we offer youth and adult mental health services to help ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders so you can have balance in your overall health. Appointments with our clinicians can be made in-person or via telemedicine. We want to help you by determining the best course of action to improve your quality of life. To learn more about our treatment options, call us today at (858) 221-0344.


Staying Healthy in Recovery

Addiction is a complex disease that leads to self-destructive behavior, a host of health problems, or sometimes death. When a person struggles with addiction or substance use disorder, they continue using drugs or alcohol despite any harmful consequences. This is due to the brain’s chemical and physiological changes that make an individual unable to stop using. A healthy lifestyle in recovery makes it easier to stay sober.

Lifestyle Changes

Since the brain changes with addiction, it will take time for the brain to learn how to function without drugs or alcohol. Focusing on healthy activities in recovery will help you maintain sobriety and sustain your physical and mental wellbeing. Physically recovering is a vital part of the recovery process, and establishing new, healthy habits can lay the foundation for years of health in sobriety.

Ways to Stay Healthy

Maintaining an active lifestyle will give you less time to think about using drugs or alcohol. Staying active lessens the risk of boredom and promotes mental, emotional, and physical health. Participating in healthy activities supports cardiovascular health, reduces weight, builds strength and stamina, and rejuvenates the immune system. Exercise and good nutrition can help decrease symptoms of depression or anxiety. It can also regulate restful sleep patterns.

Another way to stay healthy involves keeping a journal. Writing allows you to reflect on your progress and see how you managed emotions and challenges in early recovery. Developing new routines will replace old habits and helps you to avoid thinking about using drugs or alcohol.

Managing Stress in Recovery

Mindfulness of self and others allows you to be in the present. Meditation and yoga are healthy activities that use deep breathing techniques to clear the mind and renew the spirit. Meditation stimulates and trains your brain to be happy without the need for any addictive substance.

An article about oxygen levels and brain function for the Lung Institute (2016) states, “When you’re calm, breathing becomes easier, and stress levels are lower. Deep breathing, meditation, and positive thinking exercises are good ways to help you relax. Exercise also increases the oxygen in your blood.”

Certain drugs and alcohol can result in decreased blood concentration and deprive brain tissue of oxygen. A lack of oxygen to the brain can lead to brain cell death and coma. Staying active helps boost morale, reduces stress, and makes the recovery process much more comfortable.

Gratitude in Recovery

Substance use disorders and addiction can make you feel guilty, scared, and alone. Gratitude means being mindful of the positive things that you have received in recovery. Pay attention to the little details of your day that you can be thankful for, and you will discover the goodness in life. In recovery, you will find a new perspective on the world.


When you begin to feel the positive effects of the changes, it will be easier to stick to them. Having gratitude will increase your quality of life as you practice self-care. Focus on healing yourself first. Then it will be easier to work on broken relationships.

Leonard Jason, a community psychologist at DePaul University, remarked on the importance of helping those in recovery transition into society. He stated, “Just getting people clean and releasing them to the social environments that helped encourage the substance use and other negative behaviors (such as crime) has been shown to be not effective.”

Transitioning Into a Sober Lifestyle

Here are some helpful tips to help you transition into a sober lifestyle:

  • Eat nutritious foods. Most people do not maintain a healthy diet during their time of using drugs or alcohol. Eating healthy foods will help to restore physical and mental health.
  • Get enough rest. Addiction often disrupts sleep patterns. Ensuring you get enough rest will translate to higher energy levels, a better mood, sharper mental alertness, less illness, and more.
  • Find new, healthy, sober activities. While actively addicted, your mind is clouded with toxic substances, your mental and physical health is affected, and your spirit is broken. After treatment, you can discover your interests, find hobbies, and participate in healthy activities to maintain good health.
  • Learn to love yourself. Practice self-care and discover what your goals are. This will help you decide what you want to do and have in life.

 Getting Help

There is no cure for addiction, but treatment is available, and there is hope in recovery. Treatment can be tailored to your unique needs and will help restore your health, renew your spirit, and allow you to enjoy a new, healthy, and fulfilling lifestyle in sobriety. You will have the ability to explore the world around you, find new things, and nurture your needs productively and healthily.


When using substances, health may not have been at the forefront of your mind. You may have neglected not only your body but your mind and spirit as well. You may have been broken and finally decided to seek treatment. While in recovery, learning to live a healthy lifestyle is essential. You must nurture your mind, body, and spirit. To do this, you can find a new diet and exercise routine, keep a journal, find new hobbies, and, most importantly, learn to love yourself. At Achieve Concierge, we believe in treating the person as a whole with a holistic approach that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. Addiction can make you feel isolated, but you are not alone. We want you to feel comfortable with our caring and dedicated team of professionals. We offer same-day appointments as well as at-home appointments. For more information about our services, call (858) 221-0344.


How Addiction Changes the Brain

The brain is a vital organ in the human body that controls how we function. It determines how we move, walk, talk, and think. The brain adapts to environmental changes and allows us to cope with negative emotions, form new memories, and learn. When left untreated, a person who suffers from depression, anxiety, or stress might turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. This puts them at high risk for addiction, which can lead to risky behavior, serious health complications, organ failure, overdose, and early death.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is a complex disease that chemically and physiologically changes the brain, making it extremely hard for a person to quit using drugs or alcohol. These substances affect the brain’s neurotransmitter, dopamine, which invokes a temporary burst of pleasurable feelings and euphoria. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, How Addiction Hijacks the Brain (2011), “Dopamine not only contributes to the experience of pleasure but also plays a role in learning and memory — two key elements in the transition from liking something to becoming addicted to it.”

When a person suffers from addiction, they might feel emotional or physical distress whenever they are not taking the substance. Withdrawal symptoms can become hard to tolerate. As a substance use disorder deepens in intensity, using drugs or alcohol is the only thing that produces relief from the bad feelings associated with withdrawal. 

Addiction is similar to other chronic diseases because it is preventable, treatable, it changes biology, and if left untreated, it can last a lifetime. A person struggling with addiction will develop a tolerance and seek more drugs or alcohol to achieve the same euphoric feeling as the first time they drank or used. Eventually, it becomes increasingly difficult to get the release of more dopamine to feel the same pleasure. This leads a person to use more drugs and alcohol more frequently or turn to substances with a higher potency.

Health Risks Caused by Addiction

The brain adapts to substance use and changes with addiction. According to Dr. George Koob, director of the NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2015), “The brain actually changes with addiction, and it takes a good deal of work to get it back to its normal state. The more drugs or alcohol you’ve taken, the more disruptive it is to the brain.” If drug or alcohol use continues, the changes become more permanent.

Drugs and alcohol impact major organ function and can lead to heart disease, liver failure, some types of cancer, kidney failure, overdose, and death. Drugs and alcohol affect the brain’s ability to form and store essential memories, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. This means missing significant and meaningful dates and events with loved ones.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Some people do not realize they are physically dependent on drugs or alcohol until they try to quit using them and experience unbearable withdrawal symptoms. The uncomfortable and sometimes painful withdrawals are a response to the brain needing more of the drug or alcohol to function. Withdrawal symptoms make the brain crave more of the drug to feel “normal” again.

Risk Factors of Addiction

Addiction does not discriminate and can happen to anyone. While there are no specific reasons why one person becomes addicted, and another does not, some factors can put a person at higher risk of developing an addiction. Risk factors may include:

  • The age when use begins
  • Genetic makeup and other individual biological factors
  • Psychological factors related to a person’s unique history and personality
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
  • Environmental factors, such as the availability of drugs and family and peer dynamics
  • Financial resources, cultural norms, exposure to stress, and access to social support

Specific combinations of factors can drive the emergence and continuation of substance misuse and the progression to a disorder or an addiction (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).

Mental Health and Addiction

Some who struggle with addiction also suffer from an underlying mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, ADHD, or schizophrenia. Those who live with a mental health condition might turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. The drugs or alcohol can heighten the symptoms of some mental health disorders, resulting in continued drug or alcohol use in a seemingly never-ending continuous cycle. For the best success in recovery, treatment for mental health and addiction must be addressed simultaneously.

Recovery is Possible

When struggling with substance use, the idea of recovery may seem impossible. However, your brain can learn how to function without having to use drugs or alcohol. When pursuing sobriety and throughout recovery, be patient. It will take some time for your brain to be re-trained to function normally without controlling unhealthy substances. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Every day, people get help for addiction and live a happy, meaningful life in recovery.


Our brain is the center of activity in our bodies. When you use substances, brain changes occur that change your behavior. Substance use is now your top priority. You may do anything just to feel the same high you did the first time you used. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that cannot be cured but can be managed with the right treatment. Recovery is possible. You no longer have to suffer from the binds of addiction and can live a happy, fulfilling life. Sometimes, the stigma of addiction and psychiatric disorders prevents people from getting the help they desperately need. At Achieve Concierge, we tailor treatment to your unique needs. We offer same-day appointments with our caring and welcoming staff and can do house calls if necessary. Take the first step to a fulfilling life in recovery. Get help and start your journey to recovery today by calling Achieve Concierge at (858) 221-0344.


Self-Love: Nurturing the Mind, Body, and Soul

Self-love isn’t a trend; it’s the realization of self-worth. We need to realize what we mean to ourselves before we can give to others. We bury our self-worth in our body, mind, and soul. The mind, body, soul connection creates the ability to value ourselves.

Spiritually, physically, and mentally the search for self-love is rooted in how we feel about ourselves. We view who we are by how others view us far too often. Instead, we must step away from the expectations, disappointment, anger, and self- doubt we construct. Who are we? Can you answer the question? Avoid basing your answer on how others see us, which is wrapped in self-doubt or feelings of unworthiness. Recognize your potential and your beauty.


Our soul establishes our foundation. Building on the foundation, we discover our strengths. Strengths aren’t solely physical or mental; they are our essence. Nurturing our spirit takes time and forgiveness. Spirituality can mean religion, but it can also be defined as an action or feeling, making you feel at peace or grounded. 

Becoming grounded isn’t easy. We need to set aside time to find what makes us feel relaxed, grounded, and ourselves. Trying new things or going back to a place you once felt comfort and strength is essential to building a strong foundation.

Traditions, readings, and community comfort make religion the answer for many. Whether you practice Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Wicca, Buddhism, or any other form of religion, find comfort, not condemnation. Allow the love and care of the words spoken by those who want to help seep into your soul. 

Jess, a group leader, focused on maintaining sobriety with spirituality,  explains why she went back to the religion she knew as a child.

“I was lost. My marriage ended; I hated myself because I thought my looks were what made my husband cheat. I went into a spiral. Depression, alcohol, and self-loathing pulled me down. When I hit bottom, I hit bottom. I felt I needed to go back to my roots, so I started attending services. 

The community accepted me, picked me up, nurtured me, and helped me realize I was worth more than what I thought.”

The boundaries of spirituality extend beyond religion. How can we find our peace and love for ourselves if religion isn’t the right fit? We can look beyond the conventional ways and seek what feeds our soul. Spend time experimenting with different activities. Try journaling, walking in nature, painting, drawing, or anything else that creates a feeling of strength and peace. Ken explains why cycling connects him with his inner being.

“Cycling is, for me, a release. I leave my self-doubt, anxiety, and urge to give up behind. Once I clip in, everything else doesn’t matter. During my ride, I feel my body grow stronger, and my mind frees itself from all the negative thoughts. I try to carry that feeling of freedom, love of myself over into my daily activities. I am stronger because I know what I can achieve when I let the negative go and just be me.” 


Reconnecting with our bodies is a journey. We spend so much time punishing ourselves for what we think are our weaknesses. We forget how incredible our strengths make us. We are stronger when we nurture our bodies. Allow your body to heal from the abuse – the self-loathing. Whether we punished ourselves with alcohol, substances, cutting, eating disorders, or another form of abuse, we hurt ourselves. Learning to love ourselves through accepting our past and healing is a process. 

Exercise is essential in our self-love journey. Through activities such as yoga, running, surfing, or whatever form of exercise you prefer, we build on the belief we are strong and worthy of love. Listening to our body tell us how it feels every day creates a sense of understanding and forgiveness for our past. Exercise also grants us the chance to realize self-love isn’t linear. We take steps forward and backward because those steps are forms of evolution. We sometimes need to go back so we can go ahead. Don’t be discouraged; allow the process to take you where you need to be that minute, hour, or day.


Our mind is where we dwell on positive and negative thoughts and emotions. Self- sabotage occurs in our minds. We can follow our hearts by accepting a form of spirituality into our lives, we can find strength in our bodies, but we also need to come to terms with our thoughts. Our thoughts are what drives us to self-love or self-doubt. We stand to lose everything if we don’t believe in our progress. Progress lies in connecting the feelings of peace, comfort, and strength, letting them nourish our minds. 

Nourishment is subjective. We can find peace of mind through taking new classes, expanding our knowledge base, or forgiving ourselves. Forgiveness isn’t easy. We want to punish ourselves for our past, but we can’t move forward if we hold onto what hurts. Depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders are not what defines who we are; they are signs we need help.

The strength of mind is accepting the need for help. Therapy or group sessions connect you to those who can help. No one is beyond the support therapy, or group sessions bring. Accept the words spoken in those sessions and allow yourself to understand why you experience negative thoughts or feelings. Nourish your mind, body, and soul with love, care, and the belief in your strength.


Learning to love yourself isn’t a one-step process. There is a myriad of ways you can build a strong foundation for self-love. Finding what nourishes your mind, body, and soul takes time, forgiveness, and acceptance. We all need a connection to something that brings us happiness, strength, and belief. How we find our foundation is up to our preferences. We can find nourishment in little things like watching the wind blow through the leaves, going a mile farther. Seeking treatment for alcohol, substance abuse, or a mental health disorder isn’t a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. Strength is when we listen to our minds, bodies, and souls and seek the help we deserve to heal. Achieve Concierge is here to help you. We offer individual, group, and in-home therapy. We respond to new referrals within two days if you need more immediate help. For more information, call us at (858) 221-0344