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 (619) 393-5871.

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