Mental disorders are common; lifetime prevalence rates are around 50 percent in the United States and reach double digits in every country examined by the World Health Organization (WHO). Mental disorders are also the leading cause of disability worldwide, with a global cost exceeding US$2 trillion.
Millions of people in the world wonder how some people can suddenly become hopeless, how some people can start behaving differently at some point of time. In short, what causes mental or behavioral health problems?
These are questions that researchers across the world are trying to find. They do come up with certain theories or reasons but exact cause of such medical conditions is still unknown. However, most of the researchers are unanimous about the idea that most of these conditions result from a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors; and different factors may contribute to same mental health problem, which are characteristic to an individual’s emotions, thoughts, perceptions, behavior and relationships with others.
Let’s understand the role of biological, psychological, and environmental factors in the development of some common mental health problems prevalent across the world including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychoses, dementia, and developmental disorders such as autism.
Biological Factors that Contribute to Mental Health Disorders
Some mental illnesses are known to develop due to abnormal functioning of nerve cell circuits or pathways that connect particular brain regions. Nerve cells use brain circuits to communicate through chemicals called neurotransmitters. Defects in or injury to certain areas of the brain have also been linked to some mental conditions. These brain circuits, in case of any disruption, can be made to run more efficiently through medicines, psychotherapy or other medical procedures.
In addition, heredity may also contribute to mental illnesses. That means people who have a family member with a mental illness may have risk of developing one. Susceptibility is passed on in families through genes.
Even the biological factors may act differently in different individuals. It is due to the fact that most of the mental health problems are an outcome of abnormalities in multiple genes rather than single or more genes. And, how these genes interact with the environment is specific to a very person rather than for those in the family tree. It may behave differently even for identical twins. The environmental factors that are likely to interact with these multiple genes include stress, abuse, or a traumatic event.
In addition some infections may also lead to brain damage and the development of mental illness or the worsening of its symptoms. For example, a condition referred to as pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder (associated with the Streptococcus bacteria) could be a possible cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental illnesses in children.
Mental illnesses may also develop from brain defects or injury and prenatal damage as well as poor nutrition and exposure to toxins, such as lead.
Role of Psychological Factors in Contributing to Mental Illness
A number of psychological factors may contribute to mental illness including
- An important early loss, such as the loss of a parent
- Severe psychological trauma or neglect as a child, such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
- Poor ability to relate to others
In addition to common biological or psychological factors, certain stressors can trigger an illness in a person who is susceptible to mental illness, which may include:
- Feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, or loneliness
- Death, divorce, or a dysfunctional family life
- Substance abuse by the person or the person’s parents
Medical Assistance is Required in Most Cases
If you or your loved one is battling a mental health disorder, contact Medical Concierge. Call our 24/7 helpline number 877-636-0042 to gain access to details of mental health treatment centers in California. You can even chat online with one of our trained representatives to know more about residential mental health facilities in California.