What is mental illness?
A mental disorder is a clinically diagnosed ailment that is marked by severe disturbances in cognition, emotional regulation, or behaviour, typically resulting in difficulties or limitations in critical areas of daily life. Mental health disorders are varied and can also be referenced as “mental health conditions”, a larger term that encompasses a variety of mental states linked with substantial distress, functional disability, or self-harm risk, including psychosocial disabilities.
Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychosis, prenatal depression, and addictive behaviours are examples of mental illnesses (or mental disorders).
Mental disorders have multiple risk factors and can develop slowly or suddenly triggered by stressful events. The higher the number of risk factors, the greater the likelihood of developing a mental health condition.
Common risk factors or causes of mental illness
While the exact cause of every mental condition is not always known, the following are some commonly associated factors that can raise a person’s likelihood of being diagnosed with a mental illness:
Biophysical: If a person has a family history of mental health issues, experienced complications during pregnancy or birth, had a traumatic brain injury, uses substances like alcohol or drugs, has poor nutrition, or does not get enough sleep, they may be more likely to develop mental illnesses. Additionally, chronic medical conditions like cancer or diabetes, especially hypothyroidism, or other brain-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s can also lead to mental disorders.
Psychological: Experiencing stressful situations like financial or legal troubles is a significant risk factor that can trigger a mental health issue. Traumatic events such as sexual assault or being deployed in the military can contribute to the development of mental health conditions. Other psychological risk factors are having low self-esteem, a negative perspective on life, feelings of incompetence, and poor academic performance. Identifying and considering these factors is crucial in evaluating an individual’s risk of developing mental health conditions.
Social: Social risk factors have a large influence on mental health. Childhood abuse or neglect, as well as being in an abusive relationship or having few healthy relationships, can all raise the chance of having mental health issues. Recent loss, whether from death, divorce, or another source, can also trigger the onset of mental illness. Experiencing prejudice, bullying, being exposed to poverty in childhood or even as an adult, and a lack of accessibility to support services can all raise the risk of developing mental health problems.
Spiritual: Spirituality can have a profound impact on a person’s mental health. Some spiritual risk factors may have a role in the development of mental health problems. One such cause is the belief that one is irredeemably broken and beyond repair. This can lead to emotions of hopelessness and self-worth, which can aggravate mental health problems. Similarly, a sense of insignificance can lead to emotions of meaninglessness and isolation, both of which can have an impact on one’s mental health. Conflicting thoughts or misgivings about deeply held religious beliefs can also contribute to mental health problems.
Importance of knowing the risk factors leading to mental illness
Knowing the risk factors for mental illness is critical for identifying people at risk and offering early care. The prevention of mental health issues and the promotion of general well-being can be achieved by being aware of these risk factors, which will eventually improve results for both individuals and society.
Causes of Mental Illness FAQs
What are some causes of mental illness?
Mental illnesses are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological, and social factors, and can be triggered by stress or other environmental factors.
What are the 5 signs of mental illness?
The five signs of mental illness are changes in mood, withdrawal from activities, difficulty thinking or concentrating, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, and substance abuse.
Is stress the main cause of mental illness?
There are several factors that can cause mental illness in students, including academic pressure, social isolation, financial difficulties, and personal or family problems. These factors can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions, which can affect a student's overall well-being.