Why You Should Have an Annual Mental Health Check-Up

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You go to your general practitioner for a physical every year. You visit the dentist for a cleaning and exam every six months or so. Physical health: Check. But what about mental health?

As you go from health check to health check, your anxiety spikes and depression starts getting worse. It’s not until it starts interfering with your life that you make an appointment with a psychologist. Why? Well, that’s just how things are done.

But it may be time for an overhaul in the way we think about mental health. There are many reasons why you should consider having an annual mental health checkup.

Mental health impacts physical health

Have you ever experienced anxiety? Everyone has on some level because it’s the body’s natural reaction to stress. You may hear people refer to it as the “fight or flight” reaction. In response to stress, your body increases adrenaline and cortisol to sharpen the mind and get the body ready for intense movement (whether it’s fight or flight). The stress may be all in your mind, but your body gets in on the fun too.

When we’re overburdened with stress, we’re in a constant state of fight or flight. The body remains in a state of heightened alert, but this isn’t sustainable for long periods. This is how chronic stress can have a major impact on your health.

Physical health impacts mental health

Mental health and physical health are interconnected. Diseases, such as alcohol abuse or diabetes, that seem to be physical can have an impact on your mental health too. And then there are other diseases that are known to affect the mind and body together. These include diseases like Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

But you don’t have to be diagnosed with any disease in order for your physical health to impact your mental health. If you’re not eating a healthy, balanced diet, you may not get the right nutrients. And without the right nutrients, you may run the risk of developing mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. In this case, the two may seem like they’re completely unrelated, but there is a strong connection.

Deficiencies in the following nutrients have been shown to have a negative impact on mental health.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron

Mental illnesses have signs and symptoms

When you visit your general practitioner for a physical, he’s going to look for signs and symptoms of physical disorders. It’s usually very cut and dry. If you show signs that something is wrong, your doctor will recommend further testing.

The same holds true for many mental health disorders. So if you’re avoiding a checkup because you think mental health diagnoses are based on opinion, think again.

If you are exhibiting any of the following symptoms, you may be at risk for a mental health disorder.

  • Sleep or appetite changes – If you notice a dramatic change in your sleeping patterns or appetite, there may be an underlying mental health cause.
  • Mood swings – If you’re on top of the world one moment and feeling like the world is against you in the next, you may be struggling with a mental health disorder.
  • Isolation – Someone who develops mental health issues may suddenly withdraw from social situations and isolate themselves.
  • Difficulty thinking – If you’re having trouble thinking or concentrating, it’s possible that a mental health issue is the cause.

This is not an exhaustive list and there are many other signs and symptoms of mental health disorders. It’s also important to note that these symptoms could also indicate a physical problem. This is why it’s crucial to get a checkup from your family doctor in addition to a mental health professional.



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