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  • Writer's pictureJessica Frizzell, PA-C

How the Mind and Body Connection Impacts Autoimmune Diseases

Our minds and bodies are connected.

Poor mental health can have a negative impact on our physical wellbeing


good mental health can have a positive effect on our physical wellbeing.

And vice versa.

Poor physical health can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing


good physical health can have a positive effect on our mental wellbeing.

It works both ways, and no matter how you look at it or what comes first, our physical and mental health are linked to each other. The two are closely related, and they both play significant roles in our overall wellness.

The Correlation Between Mental and Physical Health

The Cleveland Clinic reports: “Depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness. It’s estimated that up to one-third of individuals with a serious medical condition have symptoms of depression.”

The National Library of Medicine explains: “Physical and psychological stress has been implicated in the development of autoimmune disease … Unfortunately, not only does stress cause disease, but the disease itself also causes significant stress in the patients, creating a vicious cycle.”

Frontiers in Psychiatry outlines: “A dysregulated balance between regulatory T cells and Th17 cells have been described to be essential for immunological homeostasis and have been implicated in the development of several autoimmune disorders (63). Signs of a dysregulated immune system has also been found in mental illnesses and might play a role in the association found between the two.”

A study published in Psychological Medicine states: “Depression was associated with a significantly increased risk of autoimmune disease, compared to those without a history of depression.”

Managing Our Overall Wellness

Achieving overall wellness is a complex and complicated undertaking. As research has shown again and again, the status of our physical health is dependent on multiple moving parts.

Here at Paducah Rheumatology, our goal is to address those various parts in order for our patients to feel the very best they can. We accomplish this by considering both the physical and mental health of our patients to improve and maintain their overall wellness.

It all begins with personalized treatment plans based upon the specific needs of each patient. Autoimmune diseases are inflammatory diseases, and that inflammatory process affects patients differently.

Even two individuals with the same diagnosis will not have the same physical outcome, and then when you throw mental health into the mix, there are countless outcomes.

Elements that might be incorporated into a treatment plan include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

  • Immune-suppressing drugs (immunosuppressants)

  • Corticosteroids

  • Infusion therapy (biological therapy)

  • Vitamin supplements

  • Herbal supplements

  • Skin creams/ointments

  • Dietary restrictions

  • Exercise routines

  • Physical therapy

  • Occupational therapy

  • Sleep management

  • Lifestyle changes (such as limiting tobacco use and alcohol consumption)

  • Visits with other medical specialists (such as a cardiologist or pulmonologist)


Mental health support is a part of this entire equation!

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to mental health support, though. We consider the particular needs of every single one of our patients as we work toward improving their mental health as part of their physical wellbeing.

A Check of Your Mental Wellness

With January as National Mental Wellness Month, we are encouraging our patients to reflect on the current status of their mental wellness.

  • Do you feel like your mental health is impacting your physical health?

  • Have you seen a decline in your mental health and feel like it’s time to seek help?

  • Is your mental health affecting your ability to function and perform daily activities?

If you are unsure whether your mental health is struggling, take a look at this mental health checklist and the possible signs and symptoms correlated with poor mental health.

And as always, our team here at Paducah Rheumatology is ready to provide guidance and support.

Managing an autoimmune disease takes a multi-dimensional approach, and we want to do all we can to help you achieve overall wellness.

Give us a call at 270-408-6100 to set up an appointment. If you will be a new patient, don’t forget to send in a physician's referral first.

We look forward to helping you take charge of your mental and physical health!

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