Your Doctor can help with Emotional Health, Too

by Dr. Hojat Askari, Founder and Medical Director, Thumb Butte Medical Center

People emotionally healthy are aware of their feelings, what influences them and how to manage them appropriately. They cope with the inevitable ups and downs of life in positive ways, have good self-esteem and maintain healthy relationships.  

Many situations can disrupt your emotional health, however. Almost any life change is accompanied by stress, whether it’s been wanted and planned for or a sudden detour from the expected. 

When you experience excessive stress or anxiety in response to any life situation it can lead to physical symptoms including higher blood pressure, lowered immune response, digestive problems, premature aging and other symptoms.

The mind-body connection has been studied for years by researchers looking into how emotional problems can trigger physical symptoms and vice versa. This has led to new understanding about the primary importance of emotional health in our patients’ lives.

There are many techniques that can help you manage your emotional response to sudden or chronic stress, and you’re better off integrating them into your life before you encounter the kind of major life event that can understandably tax your system. 

Ask your health care provider 

Emotional health challenges have been tied to numerous other symptoms, including loss of appetite, insomnia, back pain, heart palpitations and fatigue. 

If you seek medical advice for these types of issues while also experiencing stress, anxiety or unusual moodiness, be sure to mention both to your provider. Possible physical sources for the condition will be looked at first, and if they’re ruled out you and your health care provider can discuss ways you may be able to cope with negative emotions more effectively. 

These can include meditation or mindfulness practice, developing a stronger support system, building self-esteem, counseling and embracing a healthier lifestyle. 

If these interventions don’t work or don’t seem doable, your doctor may suggest you try medication or refer you to a specialist, but in most cases that will not be the first course of action. It generally is best to focus on personal, natural paths to emotional health.