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What is the difference between physical and mental health?

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Quick Answer

The difference between physical health and mental health is physical health is only the condition of the body, while mental health is a general state of well-being that allows a person to function in a productive way, according to OptumHealth New Mexico. Physical health focuses on a body's function, and mental health focuses on a person's ability to cope with life's daily emotional stresses.

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Full Answer

If a person's body works as it ought to work, he has physical health, says OptumHealth New Mexico. A person's physical health is not always within his immediate control, but he can take lifestyle measures, such as avoiding tobacco use, to improve physical health. Hereditary factors, the environment and the quality of health care a person receives also impact his physical health. When a person has physical health, he completes his daily activities without an unreasonable amount of fatigue.

For a person to have mental health, he must have a state of mind that allows him to maximize his potential and contribute to society, explains the World Health Organization. Mental health allows a person to make personal decisions and interact with others. Mental health leaves a person open to learning new concepts and participating in new experiences that ultimately lead to community contribution.

Mood, behavior and thinking all comprise mental health, states Mayo Clinic. Mental health treatment includes medicine, counseling or both. Eating disorders, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders are all examples of mental health. While a person free from disease might have physical health, fitness and a certain measure of physical activity also play a role in measuring physical health.

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