For patients 
May 24, 2024

The Vital Connection Between Mental and Physical Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it is important to address the often-overlooked connection between mental and physical health.

Here’s why.

Mental health disorders can exacerbate physical illnesses and vice versa. For people with severe mental health symptoms, nearly 38% also struggle with chronic physical conditions, compared to just over 25% for those without mental health issues. This cycle can be difficult to break without the right help and support. To understand what can be done to improve both mental and physical health, let’s first take a closer look at the mental health landscape.

Mental Health Today

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in the U.S. today, affecting about 40 million adults. Roughly one-fifth of American adults have reported experiencing an anxiety disorder. Among U.S. adults, depression is also a significant factor, with major depressive episodes impacting millions each year and often co-occurring with anxiety disorders.

Anxiety often manifests with physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems, and it can have more severe consequences. Stress and depression trigger a cascade of biological changes in the body, including inflammation and hormonal imbalances, which contribute to the development and progression of chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the leading causes of disability, affecting 121 million people worldwide and imposing a significant burden on health systems globally.

How DocGo Helps

There are many ways to help address the widespread mental and physical impact of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. DocGo takes an innovative approach, integrating chronic disease management with mental health support for patients in their homes.

First, remote monitoring can help patients understand their conditions through data. With remote monitoring tools, DocGo collects regular health data on patients with chronic conditions, making it possible for clinicians to deliver the care they need promptly and efficiently. This plays a powerful role in improving diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

Second, virtual healthcare professionals also conduct regular check-ins, which are vital to understanding patients’ symptoms, needs, and mental states. DocGo integrates everything with comprehensive medication management and care coordination, providing crucial support for patient’s mental and physical health and well-being.

Finally, via DocGo’s in-home care gap closure and population health programs, we conduct mental health and depression screenings and refer individuals to a higher level of behavioral health services and support if needed. In 2023 alone, DocGo conducted over 50,000 depression screenings as part of our mobile health programs.

The Mind-Body Connection

Effective mental health support has been shown to improve management of chronic diseases. The result is better health outcomes and reduced burdens from untreated mental health issues. Interestingly, the same is true when the treatment begins with the body. Improving mental health can start with the physical, such as regular activity and a healthy diet. Adopting these habits and effective stress management can also significantly improve quality of life.

As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s important to remember how many people worldwide are affected by anxiety, depression, and other disorders, and it is just as important to focus on how we can all help. If we address mental health, we do more than just reduce anxiety or alleviate depression. We improve physical health too. That’s why it’s crucial to encourage people facing mental health challenges to speak openly about their symptoms and seek treatments that address their needs. With these steps, we can start to break down the barriers between mental and physical healthcare, treating both simultaneously, making for better, healthier lives.