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Health

A Look At Mental Disorders: Common Risk Factors, Causes, And Diagnoses

Mental disorders form a complicated and often misconstrued aspect of mental health. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that many people worldwide will likely experience mental health disorders within their lifetime. One can be affected by a mental illness irrespective of age, gender, and background. It can affect their victims’ lives, so it’s best to understand how they happen and what you can do to treat or avoid them.

Elderly health checkups with a physician or psychiatrist who works with patients who are consulted about female or psychiatric diagnosis in a medical clinic or hospital mental health service.

Some common mental disorders include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others. If you’re diagnosed with these mental disorders, consider seeking help from a health facility or mental health home. You can visit this site when considering a safe mental health home. With that said, here’s a look at mental health disorders, common risk factors, causes, and diagnoses:

Common Risk Factors

Risk factors are elements that increase one’s likelihood of developing a mental disorder. There are several common risk factors for mental disorders, including the following:

1. Homelessness or Unemployment

Homelessness can expose people to stressors such as inadequate food, shelter, security, and social support. These extreme stressors can trigger and aggravate mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse disorder.

In addition, as a homeless person, one may have challenges accessing basic amenities such as healthcare facilities that offer mental health services. It can hinder them from getting treatment for any pre-existing mental health issues, which can worsen the symptoms and lead to a mental disorder.

Similarly, unemployment can be a risk factor for developing a mental disorder. That’s because unemployment can result in stress and financial instability, leading to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Moreover, losing one’s job can lead to identity loss and diminished feelings of self-worth, increasing the risk of developing a mental disorder.

Additionally, unemployment limits access to social amenities such as healthcare because of a lack of medical insurance and financial resources. It can make it difficult to seek treatment for mental health problems early and start the treatment process.

2. Family Conflict

Disputes within your family can lead to high-stress levels, anxiety, and depression, which can contribute to developing a mental disorder. For instance, if there are persistent arguments and fights between your parents, you may experience fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, which can affect your mental wellness in the long run.

In addition, disputes within the family unit can result in social isolation and insufficient social support. Disconnection from social support can exacerbate mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Moreover, exposing children to family disputes can escalate the risk of developing mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and behavioral problems.

3. Discrimination

Unfair treatment because of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or any other basis can cause you to develop mental health issues. That’s because discrimination can result in negative psychological issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The social isolation related to discrimination can affect your mental well-being because of feeling lonely, unwanted, and self-loathe.

Causes Of Mental Disorders

Genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors can be attributed as the cause of mental disorders. Some common causes of mental disorders include the following:

1. Chemical Imbalances

The brain depends on a complicated system of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters). These neurons transmit all the communication between different parts of the brain. They also control your mood, cognitive functions, personality, and emotions. Therefore, an imbalance in the neurotransmitters would affect how the different parts of the brain communicate, causing mental problems. For example, an imbalance in serotonin and dopamine levels can cause anxiety.

2. Trauma From Abuse

Experiences like physical and sexual abuse, accidents, natural disasters, and neglect can cause physical, emotional, or psychological pain. They can lead to the development of mental disorders. However, exposure to trauma doesn’t necessarily lead to the development of mental disorders because some people adapt and recover from such events.

3. Genetics

Sometimes, a mental disorder may run through your family’s genes, becoming hereditary. It can be passed from parent to child. For example, if one of your parents has a history of a mental disorder, there’s a high chance you might develop it too. Some studies suggest that though genes aren’t the only factor that contributes to mental disorders such as schizophrenia, they can contribute to their development.

In some cases, genetic variations can affect brain function. For example, variations in the serotonin transporter gene can be linked to an increased risk of developing depression or anxiety. That’s because serotonin is a neurotransmitter that controls your mood and behavior; a variation can make you susceptible to mood disorders.

4. Substance Abuse

Using drugs and alcohol can significantly affect your brain chemistry, changing your moods, personality, cognitive functions, and behavior. Extended substance abuse can risk the development of a mental disorder and aggravate any existing mental health issues. Substance abuse can increase your risk of developing a mental disorder because of several factors, including the following:

For example, long-term abuse of alcohol can result in cognitive decline and depression symptoms. In contrast, extensive abuse of cocaine and methamphetamine can result in paranoia and anxiety. These symptoms can lead to the development of mental disorders.

In addition, the interaction of abused substances and any psychiatric medication you may receive can slow your healing progress. The medication interaction can result in increased side effects and reduced medication efficacy. For instance, taking alcohol while on depression and anxiety medication can result in increased sedation and diminished cognitive functioning.

You may also experience increased stress and trauma while taking illegal drugs and alcohol, thus exposing yourself to an increased risk of developing mental disorders. Moreover, stress factors such as financial issues and relationship problems can cause stress. The combination of stress and substance abuse can result in the development of mental disorders.

5. Environmental Factors

Your surroundings and aspects such as poverty, social isolation, childhood trauma, toxins and pollutants, access to healthcare, and social support can contribute to developing a mental disorder.

These external factors significantly impact your physical, social, and economic situation. Some environmental factors that can cause you to develop mental disorders include the following:

  • Socioeconomic factors like poverty, social isolation, and limited access to public resources such as healthcare.
  • Exposure to violence or trauma during your lifetime can happen if you’ve lived in a violent neighborhood. Exposure to violence and trauma at a young age can affect general and behavioral development. Suppose you’ve been exposed to a violent and traumatic environment; you’re predisposed to developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression.
  • Environmental toxins and pollutants such as lead, mercury, and pesticides can make you susceptible to mental disorders. In some cases, people exposed to lead in their childhood are at risk of developing Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • Inadequate social support, such as family relationships and friendships, can cause mental disorders because of loneliness and isolation.
  • Workplace stress can also contribute to developing mental disorders such as depression, burnout, and anxiety. Working in a high-demand environment where you have less control over tasks, poor working conditions, and terrible coworker relationships can cause stress, which is detrimental to your mental health.

While environmental factors don’t necessarily cause mental disorders independently, their interaction with other factors, such as genetics, can act as a trigger.

6. Neurological Conditions

Pre-existing neurological conditions like dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and others can cause the development of a mental disorder. That’s because of the brain structure and function changes caused by these conditions. Moreover, the side effects of medication can cause mental disorders. For example, epilepsy medication may result in irritability and mood swings.

Most causes of mental disorders are interdependent, so interaction with another factor can increase the risk of developing mental issues. For example, an interaction of genetic variations and environmental factors can increase the risk of developing a mental disorder.

Diagnosing Mental Disorders

Only a licensed medical practitioner can issue a diagnosis of a mental disorder, preferably a mental health professional like a psychiatrist, licensed therapist, or psychologist. Before issuing a diagnosis, the medical practitioner has to conduct an intensive evaluation of your mental health history, symptoms, and behavior.

During the evaluation process, you may undergo the following before a diagnosis is issued:

1. Clinical Interview

During this interview, a mental health practitioner will sit with you and ask about your medical history and any prior mental health diagnosis. You may also be asked about the symptoms you experienced and behavioral changes. It’d be best to respond to these questions to the best of your knowledge because it’ll be crucial to making a diagnosis.

2. Psychological Testing

A mental health professional may subject you to a psychological test which includes a series of standardized tests. This test evaluates your cognitive, behavioral, and emotional functioning. Psychological testing aims to identify weaknesses and strengths in your mental capabilities. These tests are often administered in controlled environments like the psychologist’s office or clinic. Tests can be written or oral, depending on what your mental health practitioner deems best.

3. Physical Examination

Your doctor may recommend a physical examination to eliminate any underlying conditions causing your symptoms. That’s because some medical conditions mimic the symptoms of mental health issues. During the physical exam, the doctor would check vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. A neurological exam to check your cognitive functions, such as reflexes, muscle function, and coordination may also be performed. Imaging of the brain can also be conducted during the physical examination. The results would be considered alongside those of psychological tests, laboratory tests, and clinical interviews to come up with a diagnosis.

4. Laboratory Tests

The doctor may also request to run laboratory tests for blood work to help rule out any underlying conditions you may be having.

Once the tests are done, the mental health professional will use the results to diagnose. Further tests may be required if the results are inconclusive. A diagnosis is crucial to creating a treatment plan and determining the best intervention measures. Depending on the diagnosed mental disorder, the recommended treatment plan can include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes to reduce the symptoms, improve life quality, and advance your overall mental health.

Conclusion

There are many mental health disorders, and the symptoms can vary depending on your health issue. However, if you’re experiencing any symptoms such as a sudden change in mood, behavior, negative thoughts, physical sensations such as headaches, and social functioning, consider visiting a mental health specialist. A comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis can help you rule out any other medical conditions and help you get early treatment.

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