Your Mental Health Can Impact Your Physical Health – Here’s How

Updated: May 25

A woman speaks to a doctor about mental health

Your mental health can have a tremendous impact on your physical health. Here's how, and how therapy can help.

Key takeaways:

  • Chronic stress is one way mental health can impact physical health.

  • Childhood experiences and trauma can also play a role in your health as an adult.

  • Having maladaptive coping skills, such as drinking or smoking, can lead to poor physical health consequences.

  • Mental health can also impact physical health via changes to sleep cycles, hormones, and motivation to make healthy lifestyle decisions, such as preparing nutritious meals or exercising.

  • Some mental health conditions are linked with specific co-occurring disorders, so it’s important to manage your mental health to have better physical health and vice versa.

Global health has taken center stage due to the events of the last few years. In the United States, almost half of Americans are living with a chronic disease. It’s estimated that by 2025, chronic disease will affect 164 million Americans, making it a growing health crisis. Why are Americans getting unhealthier, despite technology and medicine becoming more advanced?

While there are multiple reasons, one of the often-cited is the mental health crisis happening in America and around the world. Mental and behavioral health is often stigmatized, and services are inaccessible, underfunded, and many people don’t receive the help they need. And, unfortunately, mental health can have a huge impact on physical health in multiple ways.

“Behavioral health is inseparable from good physical health and well-being,” writes the American Hospital Association.

The physical impact of chronic stress

Currently, polls show that many Americans are reporting “overwhelming” stress levels. Many adults reported feeling high levels of fatigue, overwhelm, and emotional exhaustion, saying it “feels like there has been a constant stream of crises without a break over the last two years.”

Stress is a normal response to the demands of life. While some kinds of