Mental illness is a disorder that is characterized by disturbances in a person’s thoughts, emotions, or behavior. This illness exist in the form of many disorders. These disorders range from those that cause moderate distress to those that clouds a person’s ability to cope with life on a daily basis. Society has pondered with the question of what causes an individual’s mental disorders. The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known but research has indicated that these conditions are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Biological Factors
Abnormal balance of special chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters have been linked to some mental illnesses. Neurotransmitters serve as communication links for nerve cells in the brain. When this chemicals are out of balance or not working properly, brain messages may not travel correctly thus leading to symptoms of mental illness. Defects or injury to certain areas of the brain has been linked to mental disorders. Genetics (heredity), infections, and prenatal damage are also listed as biological causes of mental distress (illness). It has been noted that mental illness can be associated to a family’s background when several members exhibit symptoms of mental illness. This susceptibility is said to be passed through a vast number of genes shared by the family. It must also be noted that all family members may share these genes but all may not exhibit this behavior due to the individual’s ability to cope with other factors such as stress, abuse, or a traumatic event that are known to influence or trigger mental illness.
Infections that cause brain damage are noted to cause mental illness or enhance it symptoms. A true example of this is pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder (PANDA) associated with the streptococcus bacteria has been linked to the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder in children. Another biological factor is prenatal damage. Evidence has suggested that a delay of early fetal brain development or trauma that occurs at the time of birth can enhance the development of certain mental conditions. One condition is a leukodystrophy of unknown causes. This develops due to an unborn child’s loss of oxygen which disrupts the white brain matter. Psychological Factors
Psychological factors are also linked to the development or enhancement of mental illness. Psychological factors are those developmental influences that may inhibit a person psychologically, causing him/her to lack the stamina to cope with life. One of these factors is trauma suffered as a child such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Emotional abuse that occurs during childhood–such as name calling, negative comparison to others- causes some children to create worlds of their own in their minds and eventually the only world that exist is that make-believe place. This can lead to disassociation with the real world and society. Physical abuse and sexual abuse accompanies emotional abuse. Another factor is an individual’s inability to relate to his/her surrounding environment. As an individual matures his/her emotional growth is said to mature with him/her. Some individuals mature physically but not mentally due to the factors that he/she has experienced during childhood. The make-believe world has take reign over realty thus lending to the enhancement of the symptoms a mental disorder. Environmental Factors
Environmental factors are also noted to cause or enhance mental distress or illness. Everyday stress factors are known to cause or trigger mental illness in those that are plagued with the possibility of developing this illness. Couples that have been together for many years and come to rely on his/her partner the death of or divorce from that partner leads to mounted stress that can initiate the beginning of mental distress. This mental distress has been known to lead to physical illness, death, and suicide. Death and divorce are sources of mental distress for sibling. Society has set norms that are said to be the foundation of a functional family. These norms are challenged by many factors. In today’s society the ultimate challenge is the economic status of a family. Financial stability is the foundation that most build their lives on. Norms of today are based on the ability to live well or comfortable and this ability is gained through buying power…the almighty dollar. The inability to financially function is a major cause of stress. This stress leads to a dysfunctional family. All family members feel the anguish that financial stress affords. The parental figures in this family usually grow apart due to the fact the marital connection is slowly being severed due to the mental torment that each person is struggling with.
If a marital partner is genetically inclined to mental illness he/she may slowly develop the symptoms of mental illness. Children of a dysfunctional family life also become inclined to develop symptoms of mental illness. Most children, whether reared in a functional or dysfunctional family, are faced with stress on a daily basis. This stress appears in the forms of peer pressure, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, and loneliness. Most children that are reared in a dysfunctional family situation usually withdraw from their peers and become loners or outcast. These children are usually treated as outcast and are bullied. The inability or willingness to socially transcend into the reign of his/her peers can promote or enhance the symptoms of mental illness. These symptoms can lead to suicide or physical retaliation. Social and cultural expectations are noted as sources of environmental stress. Society is built on norms and these norms, within themselves, promote stress. All members of a society strive to adhere to society in all facets…weight, hair styles, clothing, etc. The world is a wonder just because every being is unique. Many do not possess the ability to decipher his/her uniqueness and build positively from what makes him/her special. For example, society norms say that beauty is based on the size of a person…thin is in.
Most individuals strive to comply with this norm and this compliance has been known to lead to eating disorders which are a dormant form of mental illness. Another example, United States norms has always viewed inter-racial marriages as culturally taboo. Venturing into an inter-racial marriage has become more prevalent today, but these couples still face stressful situations. These situations, for those that are inclined to mental distress, can trigger anxiety and enhance mental dismay. This dismay has lead to divorces and suicide. When an individual experiences mental instability he/she is usually overwhelmed with the feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anger, and/or loneliness. These feelings cause an individual to develop self-doubt and cause him/her to seek refuge from the world. Substance abuse is usually the avenue that individuals travel as they flee the world and all its expectations. Alcohol and drugs have been the sources of refuge for many.
The serene feeling they give promotes self awareness for the individual who has escaped into his/her own world. In this world he/she has no stress and has a feeling of peace and importance. These feeling promote mental instability. These sources have a long term adverse affects on the individual. Alcohol and drugs promote a short term euphoria and a long-term life changing fact….mental illness. Excessive use of alcohol and drugs is noted to hinder a person’s ability to think and function. The use of alcohol and drugs not only cause mental distress for the user but it cause mental anguish for those that he/she associates with. Mental illness has many casual causes (factors). These factors are said to be biological, psychological, and environmental. These factors serve as mortar for the building blocks that have been noted as the foundation of mental illness.
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