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Overview of Causes of Mental Illness

Info: 3640 words (15 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 11th Feb 2020

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Tagged: mental health


There is no surprise that mental health is very imperative when it comes to living a healthy life. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) on National Institute on Mental Health, “mental illnesses are very common in the U.S. Their prevalence studies in 2017 were an estimated 46.6 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States. There are many different types of mental illnesses. Here are the most common ones: depression, mood disorders, and bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) panic disorder and phobias, psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, personality disorder and eating disorders. Here is a list of factors that can contribute to the risk of mental illnesses: genes and family history, life experiences, such as stress or a history of abuse, biological factors such as chemical imbalances in the brain, traumatic brain injuries, use of drugs and alcohol, diagnosis of serious medical conditions such as a fatal disease, and having no friends and feeling lonely and secluded. All of these are a variety of causes as to why a person may battle with a mental illness. There are details on ways to tackle and control these causes. However, therapy was mentioned a lot for the simple reason one will be able to cope, get advice, and change their negative behavioral patterns.

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We as humans all do the same activities in our day to day lives, at least for the most part. We work or go to school and we interact with people whether it’s our family, friends, or coworkers. We go through things that are sometimes inevitable which can cause a negative environment. Most people get through things just by waking up in the morning, but some struggle with finding the light at the end of the road. There is no surprise that mental health is very imperative when it comes to living a healthy life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “they defined mental health as a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community. In contrast, a person’s mental health can be negatively affected if there is anything that affects their psychological and emotional well-being in a negative way. This can lead to mental illnesses. All in all, mental illness can refer to a wide range of mental health conditions that can ultimately cause mood disorders and related illnesses that affect someone’s thinking and behavior.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) on National Institute on Mental Health, “mental illnesses are very common in the United States. Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (46.6 million in 2017).” According to their prevalence studies, “In 2017, there were an estimated 46.6 million adults 18 or older in the United States mental illness. This number represented 18.9% of all adults in the United States. The prevalence was a little higher among women (22.3%) than men (15.1%). Young adults whose ages ranged from 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of (25.8%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (22.2%) and aged 50 and older (13.8%). The prevalence was highest among adults who reported two or more races (28.6%), followed by White adults (20.4%). The prevalence was lowest among Asian adults (14.5%).” These statistics are reliable and sufficient because the CDC is a credible source and they are always up to date with most of their findings. Based off of this information, mental illnesses are present and anyone can be affected regardless of race or gender.

There are many different types of mental illnesses. Here are the most common ones:

Like I mentioned before, anyone can be affected by these mental illnesses. But what exactly triggers people to get them? How can someone’s mental health be negatively affected?

Anything could affect a person’s mental health. Although there is no known reason or causes for mental illness; however, there are factors that contribute to them whether it’s day to day life stressors such as divorce, a death in the family, a demotion at work, physical abuse, childhood abuse, or any traumatic event that stays with a person. Too add, a person’s mental health can negatively be affected due to things they can’t even control such as biological factors and genes and family history. Above all environmental, psychological, or biological factors maybe even a combination of them all, have effects on one’s mental state. Here is a breakdown list of factors that can contribute to the risk of mental illness:

All of these are a variety of causes as to why a person may battle with a mental illness. I will explain each one in depth as to how these factors cause mental illness. Then I will go in to detail in finding ways to tackle, control, and improve these factors. There will be no focus on the types of mental illnesses, only the causes that may contribute to mental illness.

Genes and family history can play a major role in a person’s life regarding not just physical health but mental health as well. For example, if cancer runs in one’s close family there is a strong chance that they could be affected by the disease. This goes hand in hand with mental illness. If depression occurred throughout one’s family history, there is a strong possibility for them to be affected as well. According to an article called, The Genetics of Mental Illness: A Guide for Parents and Adoption Professionals,” having a close relative affected by a mental illness puts one at a higher risk of developing a mental illness. Studies of twins and adopted individuals show that most of the risk is carried by genes rather than family culture than environment. How high the risk is depending on whether one or both parents were affected and whether their illness is severe or not.” This makes sense because a child is the offspring of their parents, consequently, things will get passed on to them. Provided that, if someone is aware that mental illness runs in their family, they should be open about it to their close ones and doctors. They should evaluate their own lives head on to see if they’ve battled with any type of mental illness, and if so, talk with a licensed physician ASAP. Getting help fast could cut the risk of serious depression and other mental illnesses that may have been avoided if therapy and outside help was included.

Life experiences is one common factor why many people crack under pressure leaving them vulnerable to all types of mental illnesses. Like I mentioned before, we all go through things in our lives. Some people know how to control life stressors, but some can’t. Some other life stressors other than the one’s I’ve mentioned can be: family problems, relationship issues with a significant other, financial hardships, legal issues, failing grades in college, and more. All of these factors could lead to stress, depression, and anxiety. Abuse is another heavy factor that can occur in someone’s life. Any form of abuse whether it’s physical, mental, or sexual, can ultimately lead to mental illnesses. For example, someone being molested as a child might grow up with severe trauma that they may never get over. Another life experience that can cause mental illness is going through and witnessing traumatic events. For example, a soldier witnessing the death of another soldier in combat. This could cause major stress and it could lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). According to Mayoclinic.org, “post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that causes one to become easily triggered by horrific episodes they can never get over. The symptoms include terrifying dreams and flashbacks. Keep in mind, PTSD does not only affect people with combat exposure, it can also affect people who experienced childhood abuse, physical assault, sexual violence, car accidents, and more. To better cope with life stressors, it could be very beneficial to keep loved ones close. Having support from loved ones ensures that you are not alone. Also, again, outside help such as therapy from a license professional could help cope with life stressors as well. In therapy, they can get things off their chests by talking about their everyday hardships and seek advice to ensure that they can maintain a healthy life. Therapy will be mentioned a lot as a way to cope with these causes.

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Biological factors can include chemical imbalances in the brain, which can ultimately cause mental illnesses. Chemical imbalances are when the brain has too little or too much of certain chemicals within it. These are called neurotransmitters. We all know how important the brain is to us humans. We need the brain to think, to send signals to breathe and to control our emotions and feelings. When the brain has a chemical imbalance, it will negatively affect these things, which consequently leads to mental illnesses. In particular, chemical imbalances have been said to cause depression. Depression is a relentless feeling of unhappiness and lack of motivation which can affect your day to day life activities. According to an article called, The Media and the Chemical Imbalance Theory of Depression, “The idea that depression results from a chemical imbalance in the brain was first proposed in the late 1950s and early 1960s by several different scientists. The focus was initially on the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, but by the mid-1960s the focus had shifted to serotonin, another transmitter, which ultimately led to the development of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) such as Prozac and Paxil. At the time, there were several lines of convergent evidence but the strongest evidence came from the observation that the administration of pharmacological agents acting on the brain’s monoamine system could either increase or decrease mood levels. For instance, it had been known for several years that, at least in some people, the drug reserpine could lead to a depressed state. Subsequent studies in rabbits showed that reserpine causes reductions in serotonin. Thus, putting the two facts together, deductive reasoning suggested that depression could be the result of too little serotonin.” Given these points, there is evidence that show when there is too little serotonin in the brain; in effect, depression can occur. All in all, chemical imbalances can cause depression. Sadly, there is no known cure for chemical imbalances. Psychological therapy and prescribed medications that are listed above can help cope with those affected by chemical imbalances. It is always beneficial to watch out for the number one symptom: depression. Keeping in mind that depression will occur if a chemical imbalance is present.

As for traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s), they are kind of similar to chemical imbalances from the standpoint that the brain is negatively affected. Traumatic brain injuries define itself. It’s an injury to the brain. Now just like chemical imbalances, when there is too little or too much of a certain chemical the brain will not function properly causing mental illnesses. When something hits the brain, it could be moved or mushed around causing chemicals the brain needs to be agitated enough to affect a person’s mental agility. In effect, mental illnesses can occur. Treatment for brain injuries depends on the severity of the injury. Most people who battle with TBI’s were hurt on the job. Certain jobs, people will be exposed to chemicals, machines, and heavy tools. Be cautious and avoid potential hazards by wearing the certain gear such as helmets and headgear to protect the head. Also, these types of jobs should require yearly check-ups at occupational health centers. These types of centers offer a wide range of services that caters to the needs of employees and their employers. Their main focus is to ensure that safety hazards are being applied to those who can be at risk in the workplace. For example, I’m a reservist in the US Army and I’ve been in for 5 years. Soldiers in the military have to get yearly check-ups at local occupational health clinics to ensure that they are mentally and physically prepared to continue their military careers. They check the ears, eyes, body, and ask questions about mental agility. All in all, if someone is at risk of acquiring a TBI in the workplace, make sure to get yearly check-ups to stay on top of safety hazards. There is of course medication, surgery, and rehabilitation to consider if someone was hurt from a TBI.

The use of drugs and alcohol could definitely, without a doubt, cause mental illnesses. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol may already be battling with difficulties in their everyday lives. To add, some probably already have mental disorders. As a result, their addiction will cause them to have behavioral symptoms such as: not being able to focus and think clearly, increased aggression towards the people around them, personality changes, involvement in criminal activity, depression, and more depending on the severity of addiction. Anxiety and paranoia have been linked to those who have a substance abuse as well. There is help for those who battle with substance abuse. Rehabilitation centers are the number one healer for most in these situations. There is of course therapy. Also, spiritual guidance and fully investing in a person’s religion can help cope with and fight the urge to want to use again. Everyone is not religious; however, those who practice it, does find it helpful when dealing with hardships and things such as drug and alcohol abuse. There are alcoholics anonymous (AA) classes that offer treatment for those who abuse alcohol.

Some may have never known that sicknesses like cancer and other diseases could lead to mental illnesses. Any serious illness or infection can cause a mental disorder. How is this possible? Receiving a fatal diagnosis or the positive results of a fatal illness can cause anyone to feel as if their life is over. Some will feel anxious and afraid. Overall, some will feel overwhelmed and unprepared with the results just given to them. Whatever illness one may have, their physician may reinforce limitations to their everyday lives. They won’t be able to eat freely like they once did or even enjoy their favorite hobbies during the weekends. To add, depending on the illness, physicians often prescribe medications that have strong side effects. Given these points, with a new fatal diagnosis and limitations that goes with a fatal illness, depression and anxiety can occur. For those who may be at risk for a mental illness due to their health, they should always stay on top of the duties their physician gives them. For example, taking the prescribed medication on time. They need to maintain the nutritional diet given to them, exercise to release stress, and get an adequate amount of sleep. These are a list of things that a patient will need to get used to. In the long run, staying on top of their health duties will make them feel better physically and will allow them feel hopeful in getting better. Therapy is always another option to consider as well. Family, friends, and loved ones should be close ensuring that support is nearby.

Having no friends and isolating one’s self can get very lonely at times. Most feel that no one cares, no one loves them, and in essence, they beat themselves up on the inside. Everyone should have someone that they can lean on and talk to whenever they want that comfort. Social relationships with family, friends, peers, and coworkers should be a necessity in one’s life just for the simple reason, that interaction, those laughs, those movie nights with friends, those family trips and vacations can bring happiness in one’s life. It is always a relief to be around people that make you feel loved and appreciated. When one is alone, they may never feel that sense of belonging or satisfaction. They’ll feel empty to say the least and their loneliness will lead to depression. According to an article from the U.S National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health named, Relationship Between Loneliness, Psychiatric Disorders and Physical Health A Review on the Psychological Aspects of Loneliness, “Lonely people suffer from more depressive symptoms. It has been known that depressive people seem to be less happy, less satisfied and more pessimistic. Loneliness and depression do share common symptoms like uselessness and hurt. There are a lot of similarities between loneliness and depression that many consider it a subset of depression. Those who are both lonely and depressed, loneliness is positively correlated with negative feelings and negative judgment of personality attributes and negatively correlated with it. The vulnerability to depression can be because the insecurely attached have the likelihood to develop low self-esteem, difficulty or inability in developing and maintaining relationships with people, bad problem-solving skills, and an unsteady self- concept. All things considered, loneliness and isolation can result to depression. For those who don’t have support or social relationships can resort to therapy of course. Also, it may be refreshing to partake in different activities such as: yoga, exercising, walks to the park, painting, drawing and more. These are a list of activities one can do to not focus on being lonely all the time. This could ultimately lead to meeting new people and building close relationships with them.

To summarize, there is no main cause or reason as to why a person acquires a mental illness. However, there are a variety of factors that contributes and causes mental illnesses and disorders: Above are details on ways to tackle and improve these causes. However, therapy was mentioned a lot for the simple reason one will be able to cope, get advice, and change their negative behavioral patterns. Overall, they’ll be able to solve their problems lucidly. Even if a mental illness is not present one should seek therapy whenever a huge problem occurs. Therapy is not a bad thing and one shouldn’t look at it as such. It could possibly prevent not only mental illnesses but it could prevent suicidal thoughts. Many people who battle with mental illness do commit suicide. According to the CDC, “suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999. Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016 alone. It is always easier to prevent and control things before it happens.



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Everyone experiences emotional ups and downs from time to time caused by certain events in our lives. Mental health related conditions go beyond these emotional reactions to specific situations. They are medical conditions that cause changes in how we think and feel and within our mood.

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