Mental illness is a general term for a variety of mental health conditions. Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Mental illness refers to all diagnosable mental disorders. These disorders are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning in social, occupational, or other important activities.
The exact cause of mental illness is unknown but it is believed to be caused by a combination of biological (genetic), psychological (such as trauma or abuse), and social factors (such as poverty). Biological factors may include brain chemistry, brain structure, and hormones. Psychological factors may include stress from a traumatic event or chronic stressors such as poverty; abuse; bullying; racism; homophobia; sexism; etc. Social factors may include living in an unsafe neighborhood; having little social support; experiencing discrimination and prejudice; etc. While the exact cause of mental illness is unknown, we do know that it is not caused by personal weakness or character flaws.
Anxiety disorders are a type of mental illness. They can cause a person to feel very anxious and stressed. There are different types of anxiety disorders, including: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobias.
Mood disorders are thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. For example, people who have a family history of mood disorders may be more likely to develop one themselves. Additionally, stressful life events (such as the death of a loved one or losing a job) can trigger an episode of depression or mania in people who are predisposed to these conditions.
While there is no cure for mood disorders, they can be effectively managed with medication and psychotherapy. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to stabilize the individual and prevent self-harm or harm to others. With treatment, most people with mood disorders can lead productive, fulfilling lives.
The jury is still out on what exactly causes autism. However, researchers have identified a number of risk factors that may increase a person’s chances of developing the condition. These include:
1. Genetic predisposition: Autism tends to run in families, so if you have a close relative with the condition, you may be more likely to develop it yourself. This suggests that there may be a genetic component to autism. However, researchers haven’t yet identified any specific genes that are responsible for the condition.
2. Prenatal exposure to toxins: Some studies have suggested that exposure to certain toxins during pregnancy may increase the risk of autism in children. These toxins include mercury and other heavy metals, as well as certain pesticides and industrial chemicals.
3. Infections during pregnancy: Some infections during pregnancy have been linked with an increased risk of autism in children, including rubella (German measles) and cytomegalovirus (CMV). CMV is a common virus that usually causes no symptoms in adults but can be harmful to developing fetuses.
4. Premature birth: Being born prematurely (before 37 weeks of gestation) has been linked with an increased risk of developing autism. This may be due to the fact that premature babies are more likely to experience complications during development, including problems with brain development.
5. Low birth weight: Low birth weight (less than 5½ pounds or 2,500 grams) has also been linked with an increased risk of autism. Like premature babies, low-birth-weight infants are more likely to experience health problems and developmental delays.