Mental Health Disease: An Overview

Mental Health Disease: An Overview


Often misunderstood, mental health disease is surprisingly common with one in five adults experiencing a mental health disorder every year. Half of diagnosed mental health disorders are observed before the age of 14 and 75% before a person turns 24 and these disorders will often follow a person throughout his or her life.


Generally speaking, mental health disorders are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, behavior and mood. These disorders are wide ranging and include depression, eating disorders, addictive behavior and various mood disorders. Although each person suffering from these diseases may exhibit different symptoms while sharing the same diagnosis, all may experience difficulty in social settings, interpersonal relationships and work and family life.


The factors contributing to mental illness can be both social and biological in nature. Genetics are one cause and these inherited traits can often be triggered by a life event. Biochemical processes and brain structure are also involved in the development of a mental illness. The impairment of neural networks in the brain and the change in nerve receptors often lead to disorders such as depression. A person’s environment from birth is also a strong influencer in the development of mental illness. Traumatic environments such as war zones or neighborhoods in poverty can lead to structural changes in the synapses of a person’s brain. Alcohol and drugs consumed while a baby is in the womb also increase the risk of mental health disorders.


Treatment for those suffering from mental health disease is often two faceted and combines both medication and therapy to improve a patient’s chance of recovery and well being. Physical activity and a healthy diet are also imperative in mood regulation. While suffering from a mental health illness often carries social stigma and loneliness, a support group is strongly encouraged to improve a patient’s outlook and ability to function.

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