The Connection Between Mental and Medical Health

If you have aches and pains, your first thought might be to make an appointment with your primary care doctor. If you’re suffering from stress or anxiety, you might consider making an appointment with a therapist.

Physical health problems and mental health problems have long been treated separately, but the truth is that they are inextricable. You can’t have true wellness without both physical and mental health, and a health care plan that includes your body and your mind is the best way to get there.

Harbor Community Health Centers combines mental and medical health services for unparalleled continuity of care. We provide top-quality primary care, chronic disease management, and psychotherapy services for people of all ages.

As one of the only health care offices in the San Pedro and Los Angeles area that offers physical and mental health services under one roof, we’re proud to care for the whole person: body and mind.

The links between mental and physical health

Physical health care and mental health care are often separated, but physical wellbeing and mental wellbeing are interdependent. You can’t have one without also considering the other.

Research shows that people with chronic diseases experience emotional and mental side effects, but those dimensions of illness are often overlooked. For example, one study found that about 30% of people with cancer have depression, compared to 4-8% of the general population. Physical health is often the focus, but the patient may have untreated depression, anxiety, or other mental health condition.

The connection between physical and mental health also goes the other way. Many common mental health conditions have symptoms that go beyond how you feel inside. Major depressive disorder can cause insomnia, fatigue, weight changes, and even unexplained pain.

Physical health issues can cause mental health problems and vice versa, but lifestyle choices impact both mental and physical health, too. For example, regular exercise improves physical fitness and it also releases endorphins, which are chemicals that improve mood, energy level, and mental alertness.

On the other hand, smoking cigarettes has numerous negative effects on physical health, including an increased risk of lung cancer, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Along with these health risks, people who smoke are more likely to have depression than non-smokers.

Integrating mental and medical health care

Mental and physical health are so intertwined, one can’t be treated without considering the other. At Harbor Community Health Centers, our team is proud to provide truly comprehensive care for mental and physical health.

Our medical providers and therapists work together to provide each patient with a holistic treatment plan that fits their needs. When you partner with Harbor Community Health Centers, our physicians consider your psychological wellbeing, while our therapy team considers physical complications of mental health issues.

People living with chronic health conditions like diabetes can be confident that their mental wellbeing won’t be overlooked in their health care management plan. People seeking treatment for mental health issues, from depression and anxiety to extreme anger and bipolar disorder, find that our team works to help them feel better physically, too.

With mental and physical health care plans that complement one another, it’s possible to live a healthier, happier life. Find balance and achieve wellness at Harbor Community Health Centers. Call the San Pedro, California office nearest you or request an appointment online to get started. 

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