Psychological health is a state of well-being that encompasses an individual’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It is closely related to physical health and is a key ingredient to overall wellbeing. Psychological health includes an individual’s ability to maintain a healthy balance in their life, including coping with the challenges of daily living and maintaining positive thoughts and emotions.
Despite the misconception that mental health is separate from physical health, recent years have seen an exhilarating shift in research away from a focus on disorder and dysfunction to one that celebrates the value of positivity and well-being (e.g. Argyle, 1987; Diener, 1984). Research now shows that psychological health is as important to wellbeing as physical health and has a strong and direct impact on it.
While mental illness can have a number of causes, it is more often the result of a combination of factors than a single cause. These may include:
Stress and poor working conditions can negatively affect your psychological health and lead to a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, low energy levels, changes in mood, isolation, irritability, sleeping problems, difficulty managing your diet or an inability to cope with work demands. In some cases, these conditions can also have a negative impact on your personal relationships and your quality of life.
Hormonal changes can also impact your psychological health. For example, women can experience low energy levels and depression during the menstrual cycle due to drops in the hormone estrogen. In addition, metabolic hormones such as insulin, cortisol and leptin can influence an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Some people are more prone to developing mental health problems than others. This can be due to genetics or a family history of mental illness, or environmental factors such as exposure to toxins, alcohol and drugs while in the womb. Changing brain chemistry:
Many mental health problems are caused by changes in the balance of natural chemicals in the brain, known as neurotransmitters. If these chemical messengers are no longer transmitted correctly, the brain can no longer function properly, leading to a range of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Seeing a health psychologist:
Health psychology is an area of expertise that studies and applies psychology to improve and protect human health. A health psychologist can help you take control of your lifestyle, understand your behavior and the causes of health-damaging decisions, and develop techniques for intervention.
A health psychologist can be especially useful when dealing with a medical condition, as they are trained to promote wellness and improve coping. This can include the development of a treatment plan for an ongoing medical condition such as cancer or psoriasis, and can also include education about how to manage your condition, for example through diet and exercise. They can also provide advice on a variety of topics such as motivation, goal setting and self-esteem. They can even help with a range of other health-related issues, such as smoking cessation and weight loss.