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What Are the Causes of Psychological Disorders?

By Madeleine A.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Although the exact causes of psychological disorders are not known, they may be caused by prenatal exposure to drugs or alcohol, stress, low birth weight, and traumatic events. In addition, family history of psychological disorders or mental illness may play a role in the development of the condition later in life. Pregnancy and menopause can also predispose women to psychological disorders, because fluctuations in hormonal levels are thought to also be causes of psychological disorders.

Other causes of psychological disorders might include serious medical conditions, such as cancer and chronic pain, and childhood neglect. In addition, causes of psychological disorders may depend on which type of disorder has been diagnosed. Eating disorders, for example may be related to a type of depression, while hypochondria might be related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Sometimes, gender can play a role in the causes of psychological disorders, because depression is more often diagnosed in women. In addition, a higher number of cases are diagnosed while women are still in their childbearing years. A condition called postpartum depression strikes certain women after they give birth, and can have serious consequences for mother and baby.

Treatment is similar regardless of the causes of psychological disorders. Typically, treatment for psychiatric disorders and psychological disorders include cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, and sometimes diet and exercise. With regards to medications, patients sometimes must go through a period of "trial and error" before they and their physicians find a medication treatment plan that works for them.

Adult mental disorders, as well as mental disorders in children, must be treated as soon as the symptoms are recognized. Failure to treat a mental illness may result in poor quality of life, not only for the patient himself, but for his family, friends, and co-workers. In addition, children who suffer from emotional disorders might have trouble concentrating in school, resulting in poor grades, decreased self-esteem, and the inability to make or keep friends.

Successful treatment of psychological disorders depends upon the relationship the patient has with his doctor, as well as how compliant he is with this treatment plan. People with psychiatric disorders can lead happy, productive lives when their care is closely followed by their health care provider. Ups and downs might occur, but when a cohesive relationship is formed among the patient, his family, and the medical team, a favorable prognosis is generally the outcome.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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