Wellness in Recovery Process
The issue of total wellness in recovery is important for people with mental illness. Many people who live with mental illness do not seek or receive regular or adequate primary healthcare. For many people who live with mental illness, it is difficult to access care due to financial issues, homelessness, and the symptoms of the condition. It also can be difficult for some people to explain the non-mental-health-related symptoms they are experiencing. Sometimes, medical professionals assume that health problems are part of the mental health condition and not a “real” physical medical issue.
People who have mental health conditions have a life span that is, on average, 13 to 30 years shorter than that of the general population. Earlier deaths can be due to natural causes. Cardiovascular disease is the most common natural cause of death for people with mental illness. Other conditions that cause earlier deaths include cancer, respiratory and lung disease (such as emphysema), and liver complications.
Other factors that can contribute to a shorter lifespan include smoking, substance abuse, lack of exercise, medication side effects, and unhealthy diet.
There are many things that promote wellness and general health and reduce the risk of getting common conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. They include:
Understand medication side effects. Be aware of any of the physical side effects that medication(s) may cause and how they might affect health. When the doctor prescribes medication, talk to him or her about any precautions to take or regular tests or blood work that might be important to have. Talk to the doctor right away about any side effects you think you may be experiencing.
See a primary care physician regularly. This can help detect health problems early, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. When a person stays on top of his or her health, it’s possible to identify changes early and take steps to keep diseases in check.
See your mental health professionals regularly. A psychiatrist and therapist can help control symptoms and keep a mental health condition effectively managed.
Incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine. Quitting smoking, eating nutritious food, reducing stress, and exercising regularly can help maintain physical health. The Recovery section offers ideas about creating a routine that you can stick with.
Ask for help to find safe and stable housing if it is needed. Everyone needs a place to call home. Some people with a serious mental health condition live with a spouse, family member, or roommate in housing that they own or they rent independently.