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    What Can Cause a Mental Illness?

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    Whenever someone hears the word mental illness they automatically assume the worst and those individuals are seen as different. Those words come with a negative connotation which date, back to the stone age. The small knowledge of mental illnesses was documented in the early 1500s. There might have been studies on mental illnesses, but there were not tests done for correct treatment. These people have been seen as outsiders instead of being seen as normal people. There are many things that could cause an individual to be born with a mental illness or develop one sometime in their life. Unlike physical illnesses, mental illness cannot be diagnosed with a blood test or an x-ray.

    Kirsten Weir(2012) has asked the questions, “Are mental illnesses simply physical diseases that happen to strike the brain? Or do these disorders belong to a class all their own?” (p. 30). If these are diseases that just strike randomly or if there are certain causes, there needs to be plenty of more research to help eliminate these causes. The main causes of mental illness can loosely categorize into three groups; the groups are biological causes, psychological causes, and environmental causes; the different treatments could also have different causes towards mental illnesses. The phrase “biological causes” means the biological or genetic disconnections of an individual from the neurotransmitters in someone’s brain or their chemical imbalance. These causes would be ones that someone is born with or develop later on due to a disease. People without mental illness have a different view on certain mental illnesses. By that I mean that people have self-conclusions that different types of mental illness are caused by different factors.

    In a study, Link, B.G., Phelan, J.C., Bresnahan, M., Stueve, A., Pescosolido, B.A(2017) have asked people which mental illness is related to which factor, “For schizophrenia and major depression, the second most commonly endorsed cause was a chemical imbalance in the brain” (p. 1330). Schizophrenia is based on genetics, and it can be passed down from generations. This does not guarantee the illness is always passed down, but rather the chance of inheriting the illness is higher. Schizophrenia can develop in a person on its own or it can be brought on by stress or other factors as well. There is not just one area of focus when dealing with mental health. There are other parts to look at such as environmental factors, family history, and their childhood. There will not be much information on mental illness if the only area studied is the brain. (Weir 2012, p.30) In order to find out more about mental illnesses professionals need to be willing to dig deeper into the person’s brain and background. Not only are there biological causes to mental illnesses but there are also psychological causes.

    Studies have been done to prove that stress plays a signifigant role in mental disorders. According to Calcia, M. A., Bonsall, D. R., Bloomfield, P. S., Selvaraj, S., Barichello, T., & Howes, O. D. (2016) in their article in Psychopharmacology, “Large-scale epidemiological studies have shown that stress, both early in childhood and later in life, predisposes to the development of mental health problems in adulthood.” (pp.1637-1650). When the word stress is mentioned, this means the stress of children adapting to new areas: going to new schools, moving homes due to divorce or lack of money to keep a home. The stress that people encounter in their adulthood could range from the stress of schoolwork in college to not knowing what you want to pursue in life putting a huge stress on their life. When there is a stressor in someone’s life, their behavior can start to change, they can become more angry, hostile and have aggressive feelings.

    Many people have had to deal with stress when it comes to school, work, or another part of their lives, but the stress that could potentially lead to mental disorders is very severe. This type of stress can lead to anxiety and compulsive disorders. Different types of stressors affect certain parts of the brain. An example of stressors and the parts of the brain they affect are repeated social defeat, chronic restraint, and prenatal stress can affect the hippocampus. (Cilia, M.A, et. All 2016, 1637-1650). This data came from the study of stress and neuroinflammation. The study tracked and scanned the brain based on different stressors in an individual life. When subjects that did not have a severe stressor in their life were scanned their hippocampus was not as affected as ones with traumatic stressors. More tests are being done to see which parts of the brain are affected and what type of treatments can be used to help mental illnesses.

    Lastly, environmental factors have a big cause on some mental illnesses. Some of those factors include a hostile/dysfunctional family life, significant changes in someone life, or a stressful change of scenery for an individual. Some people do not handle life changes very well, which can cause stress and anxiety in their life. There have been studies done on epigenetic; this could help identify the link between causes of mental illness and biological causes. (Weir 2012, p.30). In the brain there are molecules called genetic markers that attach to DNA which can turn the genes on and off. These markers do not affect the individual’s current lifestyle but could affect generations to follow. On the same test that was mentioned there were also environmental factors that were tested including social isolation, food/water deprivation, and social defeat. These tests were not performed on humans, but these stressors had the same effects to the test subjects’ brains as they would to a human. The stressors that surround someone’s life play a large role in how they develop as they grow older. What they experience in their childhood carries on in their minds into adulthood.

    Environmental factors have a lasting effect on a person and on their physic. Treatments are ways to help mentally ill patients, there are some treatments that some patients can take and other that they cannot. There are also set treatment, for patients, and they are constantly needed to be changed in order to fit the individual and their needs. The dosage, type of medicine, and combination of medicine is changed constantly when trying to help someone who is mentally ill. The medications that best fit a patient will depend on their particular type of mental illness and how their body responds to the medication. The types of medicine that are commonly used are antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, mood-mood-stabilizing medications, and antipsychotic medication. These medicines are used to help calm someone or keep them from becoming too agitated or depressed. These medicines just like all come with side effects, but someone who does not take the correct medicine could enhance their mental illness.

    People with mental illnesses will try to refrain from taking their medicine because they do not like the way it makes them feel. It could make them tired cause headaches and make them dizzy. Some illnesses should not be treated with drugs but rather with psychotherapy. This is talking therapy because some individuals’ problems could be because of something that happened to them when they were younger, and they need to talk it out to find the root of the problem to help cope. Mental disorders have many different causes which loosely categorize into biological causes, environmental causes, and psychological causes. Using the term loosely when talking about the categories shows that one cause could be in two groups or it could be one that does not fit into any group.

    Different treatments may cause different symptoms in patients or different outcomes when they are taken. Mental illnesses have been a topic of study for quite some time, yet there still is not enough information as to how mental illnesses are caused or what can cure them. There does not need to be a negative feeling associated with the words mental illness because these people have a chemical imbalance or a stressor in their life. They did not choose to be that way and all they want is to be accepted into a normal society.

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    What Can Cause a Mental Illness?. (2022, Nov 26). Retrieved from

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