prevent exam stressMany people discard mental illness because it’s ‘all in the mind’. Those who haven’t suffered imagine conditions like these to be imagined. And, they’re obviously wrong. Mental illness is very real and has the power to destroy lives as much as any other health concern.

But, it’s not entirely wrong to say mental health is all in the mind in some regard. Conditions, like schizophrenia and depression, for instance, seem closely linked to production of chemicals like dopamine. There’s also clear evidence that brain function alters in sufferers. And, rebalancing chemicals can lead to recovery in some.

But, like any illness, conditions like these are also affected by outside influences. For instance, lung cancer may be due to unhealthy cell division in the lungs. But, the issue stemmed from, or was made worse by, the sufferer’s smoking habit. Bad habits can also worsen mental wellbeing. And, we’re going to look at what they are, and how much of a difference they have.

A bad diet

When it comes to eating the wrong foods, the focus is often on our waistlines or blood sugar. But, eating certain foods can also sway mental health. While studies are ongoing as to whether bad diet causes mental illness, we know it can exacerbate existing issues. For instance, those who suffer from anxiety often report trouble with caffeine. In fact, many have no choice but to avoid it all together. There also seems to be a link between gut health and issues like depression. And, a high-sugar diet is no good for your guts. Thus, changing to healthy alternatives could at least help manage your symptoms.

A terrible sleep pattern

The relationship between sleep and mental health is difficult to understand. In the past, lack of sleep was thought of as a symptom only. But, recent studies at the University of Oxford suggest it could actually lead to mental illness. Either way, not getting enough shut-eye doesn’t mean good things for psychological well being. Cause or not, many who suffer from mentally report an inability to get to sleep. Even those who manage it often state they’re unable to get back to sleep if they wake during the night. If this applies to you, put proper sleep practices in place. This could mean finding a mattress which helps you sleep through, or meditating before bed instead of scrolling on your phone. Either way, this could help reduce your symptoms drastically.

Harmful relationships

Given many mental illnesses lead to low self-esteem, unhealthy relationships could worsen the situation. In fact, in extreme cases, they could be to blame for negative thought patterns. We all have that one friend who knows how to press our buttons. And, when you mix that with mental illness, the results can be severe. In this instance, speak to the person in question. Either ask them to treat you kindly, or put the friendship aside during recovery. It’s a difficult thing to ask, but a true friend is sure to understand your feelings.

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