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Mental Health Is Physical Health

Mental health is physical health.

I preach that a lot on my social media because, simply put, it’s true.

At the risk of sounding educational and writing this like a school paper, I want to inform you of just a few things.

1. Mental health is physical health. I said this already. Got it. But knowing this could help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. There are still so many people who believe depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. are all made up and that people with those illnesses are just “crazy.” And that’s another thing: stop calling people who live with mental illnesses “crazy.” It’s not appropriate nor is it even remotely accurate.

2. Mental illnesses are not only mental, they are physical as well. Ask anyone with an anxiety disorder. I’ll use myself as an example. I battle with pretty bad social anxiety. It keeps me from having a job like any other “normal” person. When I go out in public, I feel physical symptoms. It’s not just “Oh man I’m so nervous!” It’s also sweating, racing heart and dizziness. That doesn’t even include the symptoms from a panic attack I may have.

3. Depression can be fatal, just like any other physical illness. Yes, for real. Suicide is not just something people do to “get out,” “get bailed out” or do just for “attention.” I can promise you if someone dies by suicide, they struggled… bad. For some people, suicide is the final symptom of depression. Not everyone with depression dies by suicide, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t struggle too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen on social media, even from my friends on Facebook, that people still believe that suicide is selfish and that the person who passed away “took the easy way out.” Come on. That’s not fair and it’s undermining the battle that the person might have fought literally on a daily basis.

4. “You’re making it up to get out of doing (this) or (that). Just smile!” OK… first, that’s just not that easy and you know it. Second… don’t you think if we could “just smile” and everything would be fine that we would have done it a long time ago? Depression can take away your energy. You have to make yourself do anything. So no… we’re not just “making it up” to get out of anything.

Think of it like this.

Just like you can sometimes “see” other health conditions in tests and scans, PET scans have shown you can see the difference between a “depressed brain” and a brain without depression. Just because depression is “invisible” to other people (because as we know, depression shows physical symptoms as well), does not mean you don’t deserve the help, whether it be with therapy, medication or even ecotherapy. Broken bones heal and they’re good to go after a month or two. But unfortunately, mental illness often isn’t that simple.

Please stop thinking depression or any other mental illness is not as important as physical health. It is physical health. The brain and the body should not be categorized into two totally separate types of healthcare. Mental health is physical health and physical health is healthcare. Healthcare is healthcare.

The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

There is no health without mental health.

Follow this journey on Ali’s site.

Getty image via Anastasia Usenko