Mental illness definition
A mental illness, according to APA, is a health condition involving changes in emotion, thinking, behavior, or a combination of all these. It is associated with distress or problem functioning in society, work, or family activities. And just like the phrase “physical illness” encompasses many different types of physical problems, mental illness might describe a vast array of mental illness issues. And remember, having a mental illness does not mean someone is crazy as many of us think. It means that there are changes in chemical production, either too much or too little, in the brain. But what causes these chemical imbalances? What causes mental illness?
What are the causes of mental illness?
Although the causes of most mental illnesses are not known, research shows that a combination of conditions such as biological, psychological, and environmental factors can be the cause. How does each one of these factors affect your mental health? Well, let’s take a look at them.
- Genetics: Sometimes, mental illnesses run in the family. Scientists believe many mental illnesses are linked to abnormalities in many genes rather than just one or few genes that how these genes interact with the environment is unique for every person. That is why a person inherits a susceptibility to mental illness and doesn’t necessarily develop the illness. Mental illness itself occurs when other factors such as stress, trauma can trigger an illness in a person who has an inherited susceptibility to it.
- Infection: certain infection has been linked to brain damage. For instance, a condition is known as pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder (PANDA) associated with the Streptococcus bacteria has been linked to the development of the obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental illnesses in children.
- Brain defects or injury: Defects in or injury to certain areas of the brain have also been linked to some mental illnesses.
- Prenatal damage: Loss of oxygen to the brain at the time of birth can be a factor in the development of certain conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder.
- Substance abuse: long-term substance abuse has been linked to anxiety, depression, and paranoia.
Other factors: Poor nutrition and exposure to toxins, such as lead, may play a role in the development of mental illnesses.
- Childhood trauma includes emotional, physical, and sexual abuse,
- Poor ability to relate to others
- An important early loss such as the loss of a parent.
- Chronic stress
- Poor nutrition
- Stressful life events
- Social or cultural expectations
- A dysfunctional family life
- Change of jobs or schools
What really matters after the diagnosis?
The first step to getting better is seeking professional help. Mental illness is treatable, the most important decision one could make is to acknowledge and accept the diagnosis. Your next step is to educate yourself about your condition and your best options for treatments. You also need to understand that it might take, you and your care team, a little time to figure out the best course of treatment that suits your needs. Thirdly, surround yourself with those who love, support, and care for your well being.
If you or your loved ones are in distress, please contact the National Institute of Mental Health
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