When it comes to our physical wellness, there is no doubt that each of our bodily systems is interconnected and interdependent. No individual system in our bodies functions in isolation. Our cardiovascular system depends on our respiratory system (and vice versa), our neurological function relies on precise chemical balances and spinal alignment to function at its best, and our reproductive systems rely on our endocrine systems to operate normally. Of course, when considering the complexity of the human body, this list is only the beginning.
What about our mental health? While considered by some to be a separate issue apart from the physical nature of our bodies, our mental condition is entirely connected to our physical being, as well. When we are physically unwell, particularly in a chronic or long-term way, our mental health is more likely to decline or be affected negatively in some way. And in reverse fashion, when we are living with a chronic mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, our physical health is likely to be negatively affected, as well. There are many scholarly articles concluding the concrete nature of the physical/mental condition, including this one published in Social Science & Medicine.
One of many physical conditions that may be negatively affected by depression is blood pressure. Chronic depression may be particularly problematic for someone who is already living with diagnosed hypertension (high blood pressure). By definition, blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls. Hypertension is simply blood pressure that is considered higher than normal. Your medical provider may raise alarm if your blood pressure is elevated on a regular basis. Living with chronic or poorly managed hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States.
Several studies suggest or conclude that chronic depression may increase the risk for uncontrolled (or undermanaged) hypertension in people with high blood pressure. One particular article published in Experimental & Clinical Cardiology and featured by the National Institutes of Health, determines a connection following a study of 40 individuals with hypertension.
Each of the 40 individuals was already receiving medical treatment for high blood pressure. Participants submitted (self-reported) blood pressure readings several times per day using a validated device. They also completed the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale survey for depression. Researchers used the Spearman correlation coefficient to determine associations between the results of the blood pressure readings and depression surveys. Of these 40 study participants, 23 were determined to be depressed. Of these 23 patients, 21 had poorly managed high blood pressure. According to this article, several other studies, including one published by the Journal of Hypertension suggest that individuals experiencing depression are at high risk for developing hypertension, as well as being predisposed to stroke and ischemic heart disease. Another study published in the American Heart Journal concludes that depression also may put patients at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and death.
Regardless of the physical or mental challenges you are facing, it is most important to seek help from qualified specialists who can help you improve your health from all angles. Understanding the interdependence of physical and mental health can help us make great strides in pursuing the kind of help we need. Finding healthcare providers who understand and believe connection is crucial.
When you are seeking mental health support, remember that no one treatment or approach to healing works for everyone. The solutions to recovering from depression and anxiety are unique to each individual, and it is crucial to find the support you need to get better. Whether you are exploring treatment options or need more help beyond medication and talk therapy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) therapy may be the right choice for you. Consult with your physician and contact TMS Global Networks in Louisville to learn more about this non-invasive, FDA-approved treatment for depression and anxiety. The right treatment for your depression can make a great difference for your WHOLE health!