Looking after our physical health is essential for everyone, but it may be an additional challenge if your mental health is not in a good place either. For example, mental health of young dsg people may be at a higher risk impacting on their physical wellbeing, however, there are things they can do to reduce the risk.
This might be associated with the symptoms of the illness or the side-effects of medication. It might be due to smoking, not having enough exercise, or other factors in your lifestyle. Physical health issues can also get overlooked when everybody’s attention is on looking after your emotional wellbeing.
No matter what the reasons may be, people affected by a mental disorder frequently have a number of these issues:
- Weight reduction, especially around the midriff
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High blood glucose levels
These problems may cause heart disease, diabetes or other complications. This makes it even more important that you look after your physical health too. Below are some simple but effective things that you can do to care for yourself.
A healthy lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle means enjoying it without endangering your health. However, it does also entail quitting or reducing as much as possible things that are not healthy (for example, getting off drugs, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol use).
Being physically and emotionally healthy in your day-to-day life helps make all of the difference, and includes:
- Eating and drinking healthily
- Being physically active in your everyday life
- Sleeping well
- Managing stress
- Staying in touch with people
- Reducing or quitting smoking
It is a great idea to have an overall health check when you first visit your GP or psychologist/psychiatrist. It is also important to get a check-up when you begin a new type of medication.
Routine health checks are significant for each of us to identify early indications of any problems. Early detection of any issues you are facing means earlier treatment and a much better end result.
In a health check, the doctor may:
- Inquire about your physical health history and that of your family members
- Ask about your lifestyle (for example, about smoking or how much exercise you need or alcohol intake)
- Check your blood pressure and heart-rate
- Test your blood for fats (lipids) and sugars (glucose), and how well your liver, kidney, and thyroid glands are functioning.
- Have an ECG measurement of your heart
- Measure your weight and waist (over 90 cm for girls and more than 100 cm for guys greatly increases the risk of health problems)
- Make an observation of you for involuntary muscle movements (as an example, restlessness, tremors or stiffness)
- Question you on contraception and any sexual issues, and for women changes relating to periods or breast-milk
- Ensure regular pap smears and breast screening for women, and prostate tests for men.
See a dentist annually and an optometrist at least every two years to examine the health of your teeth and eyes as well.
Monitoring and follow up
Seeing the same doctor regularly is ideal (or at least a practitioner at the same clinic). It allows the doctor to get to know you, and makes it easier to chat about any potential issues you are facing.
Following the very first health check, ask your physician to follow up frequently on your overall physical health and any specific conditions or concerns you have.
Tracking some measurements, such as weight and waist measurement should be done every three months. These are things you are able to do yourself.
Speak with your physician about the risks specific to your illness, the treatment along with the way you live and how it will affect that. Ask them to check for a broad variety of symptoms. Remembering you are entitled to those health checks.
If any physical health issues are found, talk to your doctor about the options for improving your health and reducing health risks. These can include:
- Starting a specific treatment
- Thinking of a change of drugs
- Understanding lifestyle changes, such as eating habits and sleep patterns
- Referral to low-cost support or programs, such as drug rehabilitation programs, or a coming out support group.
Small changes can make a big difference
Removing or decreasing even one risk factor may make a big difference. By taking charge of your life in this manner, you can improve your long-term wellbeing, and feel much better as well.
Shared care – sharing information
Frequently there are a number of services involved in looking after your health (for example, a GP, psychologist or other health professionals). It is important that these providers make contact with each other so that they know what the others do.
Advantages of prevention and early detection
- Feeling better emotionally – being physically healthy is great for your mental health.
- Fewer health issues – reducing the chance of developing future problems.
- Getting help sooner – identifying issues early, so they may be treated earlier.
- Taking control – getting regular health checks helps you feel you are taking control of your life