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By Dr Ursula
Last updated: June 2019
People with chronic mental health problems may be
particularly vulnerable to impaired physical health and poor
lifestyle choices. Making sure that one eats the right diet and
gets plenty of exercise can be difficult at the best of times.
Quitting smoking – though possible
– remains notoriously hard for anyone.
Thus, if keeping a healthy lifestyle is
already a challenge for people without mental health problems, how
much more difficult must this be for people with serious mental
health problems who may experience symptoms such as loss of energy,
motivation and volition, and who additionally have to cope with
adverse effects of medication such as weight gain and sedation?
Many lifestyle interventions that are intuitively attractive and
well-meant may not translate into health gains if not adapted to
the special circumstances of the person experiencing a severe
mental illness. Hence, as clinicians we need to develop the
expertise at the interface between mental and physical health to
enable us to integrate meaningful lifestyle management into the
multidisciplinary care plan.
The aim of this module is to familiarise all
clinicians treating patients with chronic severe mental disorders
with a systematic and practical approach towards the diagnosis of
lifestyle-associated physical health problems and potential
If you like this module, you may also be
Complementary and alternative medicines in
psychiatry by Dr Ursula Werneke
Polypharmacy by Dr Vellingiri Raja
Physical healthcare in severe mental
illness by Dr Steve Brown
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