What are the Common Causes of Mental Illness?

Felicia Dye

There is a wide range of possibilities about the causes of mental illness. Some people subscribe to the belief that the problems are caused by chemical imbalances. Physical and emotional trauma are often identified as causes of mental illness. In other cases, the causes are believed to be chronic substance abuse habits.

Emotional trauma can cause mental illness problems.
Emotional trauma can cause mental illness problems.

There are numerous theories about the causes of mental illness. Some are so common that they are discussed as if there is solid, conclusive evidence to support them. While these may be supported by some research and may be considered well-founded, it is important to note that authorities have yet to conclusively determine what the exact causes of mental illness are. Many experts believe that disorders result from a combination of factors.

Chemical imbalances in the brain may cause mental illness.
Chemical imbalances in the brain may cause mental illness.

One widely held theory, however, is that chemical imbalances cause certain types of mental disorders. Research has shown that there are chemicals known as neurotransmitters in the brain. It is believed that neurotransmitters are essential to proper mental functioning. In some instances, however, it is believed that the insufficient or excessive presence of these chemicals leads to adverse effects that materialize in the form of mental illness.

Trauma, either emotional or physical, is also believed to be one of the causes of mental illness. The fact that physical injury to the brain can lead to psychological problems is supported by many factors. To begin with, people who have suffered brain injuries have been observed to have temporary symptoms that mimic mental disorders. The fact that these symptoms eventually subside leads to beliefs that, if the trauma is severe enough or affects certain areas of the brain, permanent damage is likely. Supportive research has also been conducted in cases where people suffer from conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder or manic-depression only after being injured when they previously had no signs of these problems.

Emotional or psychological trauma is also commonly held responsible for mental illness. There is a wide range of events in life that are believed to have the ability to produce this type of effect. These include the inability to cope with the death of a loved one, sexual abuse, or abnormal childhood relationships with parents. Many health authorities believe that psychological trauma is a slow-acting cause, meaning that the problems often materialize long after the underlying events.

There is also evidence that strongly suggests that substance abuse is one of the leading causes of mental illness. The connection that has been made suggests that chronic abuse of drugs, both legal and illegal, or alcohol can lead to conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Some people argue that the mentally ill turn to substances to relieve the symptoms of mental disorders that already exist. While this may also be true in some cases, research strongly suggests that the problems often arise in the opposite order.

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