Mental illness affects millions of people worldwide. According to research, one in every five Americans (one in every six kids) has experienced some form of mental illness.
But what explains why certain people have difficulty and others don’ t? Is it a question of genes? Is it a question environment? Is it access to treatment? Or personality differences? We’ll explore the main factors.
Struggles of Mental Health
Mental illnesses aren’t caused by one thing; instead, they appear to be triggered by multiple different things.
It’s important to remember that the presence of these risks doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has an underlying mental health condition. Instead, they just happen to be more prevalent among people who do.
Your brain and body are intricately linked, and physical issues can affect your mental state.
Brain injury, in particular, may correlate with mental health issues. The brain controls our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can affect every aspect of life, including mood, sleep, and impulse control. Consequently, they may trigger or exacerbate mental health conditions.
When chronic pains and issues like depression and anxieties occur together, they can be especially difficult to manage because the painfulness of the symptoms can cause people to become even more depressed and anxious than they already were.
Mental health conditions that may be caused by other illnesses or medical conditions includes:
- Prenatal damage.
- Brain malformations.
- Medical conditions caused by traumatic events (such as stroke, cardiac arrest, and cancer).
- Serious, life-threatening infections.
Studies have shown that neurobiology plays an important role in mental health. Serotonin and dopamine are chemicals that play a part in mood disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. Norepinephrin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are also involved in these illnesses.
Neurobiologists are still making significant progress in their understanding of brain function. As time goes by, we may learn even more about the role body chemistry has on our minds.
Chemical imbalances may explain why antidepressants can help relieve symptoms of depression. Because they improve communications between neurotransmitters, they can provide tremendous relief for patients who suffer from depression.
However, even though medicines don’t “cured” mental illnesses, they can provide enormous relief.
It doesn’t matter whether these events are considered “traumatic” or not; elevated levels of chronic or acute psychological distress can lead to mental health issues.
Examples of stressful situations include:
- Family dysfunction.
- Chronic grief (experiencing many deaths sequentially)
- Ongoing social/cultural oppression.
- Divorce or serious relationship issues.
- Academic problems.
- Unemployment or difficulties with work.
Ongoing anxiety can make it difficult to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. When you feel overwhelmed by the events happening in our lives, it’ll be hard to prioritize self-love or quality relationships.
You might find yourself thinking about quick fixes that temporarily feel good—but they won’t really help you heal. In addition, your mental health could start suffering.
Mental illness runs in families. This means that mental disorders often occur within families. In fact, one out of every four Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental health problem.
However, not everyone who lives with someone who has a mental illness also develops a mental illness themselves. That’ s because genetics play an important role in determining whether or not we develop mental illnesses.
There could be several reasons why some people struggle with depression. It may be due to genetics, environment (such as family history), or both.
Patterns can be influential. After all, families serve as the primary templates for “how the worlds works.” Messages passed down through the generation can unintentionally influence people.
Given that parents often struggle with their own mental health issues, it doesn’t necessarily follow that their kids will face similar challenges. Early intervention and treatment could help mitigate some of these risks.
Other Mental Illnesses
Mental illness often coexists with one another. For example, most people who suffer from a substance abuse problem also suffer from some form of depression, panic attacks, or post-traumatic stress.
A person who suffers from clinical anxiety often feels anxious because he/she thinks something bad will happen.
In addition, people with social phobia feel uncomfortable around others because they fear being judged negatively.
Someone with obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD) worries excessively about certain things, such as germs, cleanliness, and order.
People with OCD also try to avoid situations where these fears could occur. Although OCD can coexist with other illnesses, it is not caused by any other condition.
Trauma represents a major risk factor for most mental illnesses.
Childhood traumas, in particular, pose a significant threat to one’s emotional well-being. They’re helpless and dependent on others for their basic survival.
If they experience abuse, neglect, or abandonment, those experiences can certainly affect their development.
Trauma can be fundamental to the brain and compromise someone’s basic sense of security. It can also be linked to other complex issues, including health concerns, economic hardship, or personal struggles.
Unresolved traumas can definitely cause problematic mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Emotional dysregulation.
- Aggression and violence.
- Escape behaviors (substance use, unsafe sex practices, overeating).
- Withdrawal and avoidance.
As time goes by, these symptoms may become more severe and contribute to (or exacerbate) existing mental health conditions. Even if the trauma occurred many year ago, the impact could remain profound.
Protective Measures Against Mental Illness Struggles?
Mental illness comes in various forms. Some illnesses are treatable, whereas others aren’t. And yet, despite these differences, what do we see? We see similarities between those who suffer from mental illness and those who don’t.
It may not be clear why this is so, but it is important to understand that mental illness doesn’t discriminate.
Appropriate Interventions and Treatment
Many people who struggle with anxiety or depression don’t seek help because they believe there is nothing wrong with them.
They think they’re just “overreacting” or that they shouldn’t be feeling so anxious. But when they wait too long before seeking help, they may suffer from excessive pain or discomfort.
As we would urge a loved-on to seek medical attention for an injury, we should urge ourselves and others to seek medical assistance when they need it for mental health issues. By doing so, we strengthen our community by promoting emotional well-being for everybody.
Furthermore, the evidence suggests that therapy and medications help. Psychotherapists are trained in evaluating, treating, and helping people who may be struggling with mental illness.
They offer support and compassion for patients who often feel alone in these situations.
It’s important that you find a holistic approach that fits your needs. There are many different types of providers out there, so be sure to look into them all before making any decisions.
Higher Levels of Resilience
However, hardship alone doesn’t necessarily indicate that someone is destined for trouble.
Resilience is an important protective factor against stress and trauma. It doesn’t mean avoiding stressful situations altogether. Rather, resilience involves strengthening our capacity to adapt, integrate, and heal from stressors.
Resilient people tend to:
- Practice themes of acceptance for what life is (and what life isn’t).
- Be solution-oriented.
- Integrate stress management and relaxation strategies in their daily routines.
- Practice gratitude regularly.
- Focus on building and maintaining a positive support system.
Some people may seem resilient at first glance. However, they might not be. They could just be naturally strong. You can learn to become stronger through practice.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich, poor, young, old, male, female, or any combination thereof; if you focus on giving instead of receiving, you’ll be happy.
Giving to others makes them happier than giving to themselves. For example, donating to charities activates the pleasure centers in our brains.
Counting our blessings helps us appreciate them more. However, supporting, sharing, and giving to people who need help makes us feel better about ourselves.
Finally, prosocial behaviors often trigger a domineering effect. When you help people, they feel good about themselves. They start behaving better towards each other.
That positive feedback loop encourages them to keep helping people. But if they see someone else doing something nice for another person, they may try to do the same thing.
So, when you help somebody out, they’re more likely to help out other people too.
Close, Healthy Relationships
Love alone cannot heal someone who has depression, but having friends and family who care for them is essential to their recovery.
It turns out that people who have happy relationships are happier than people without them. And they’re happier than people who just focus on their finances.
Good relationships begin when we prioritize being the kind of person we want to be.
Being a good resource for support means providing answers to questions, offering guidance, and helping
- Offering support in ways they need.
- Maintaining and respecting other people’s boundaries.
- Showing compassion and curiosity for your differences.
- Practicing active listening.
Remember that toxic relationships can have an adverse impact on your emotional state.
If you’re close to people who don’t behave kindly towards you, you may experience anger, sadness, or resentment.
These negative emotions can cause harm to your overall well being.
And always remember!
You shouldn’t compare yourself to others; however, if you notice that you’re struggling with your mental health, ask for help, and integrate new coping methods into your life, it may be helpful.