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Mental disorders: What is causing them?

A mental disorder is a condition which is commonly triggered by abnormal disabilities and distress affecting a person at some point in his/her life. Thus, these factors influence an abnormal change in the behavior of the affected individual, reflecting through cognitive, perceptual and affective aspects of his/her life. Due to delicate nature of mental disorders, there are many types of this condition. In fact, social perception of mental disorders has changed throughout history.

Due to the fact that cultural perception is crucial for diagnosing mental disorders in the first place, there are many variations regarding defining, assessing and classifying different types of this health condition. However, a standard value for this process exists, to a certain extent.

General Facts about Mental Disorders

Once a person is suspected to be suffering from a mental disorder, he/she is directed to a psychiatric hospital, where psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, through numerous types of approaches, give their best to diagnose the condition a patient may be suffering from.

The treatment commonly involves medications, psychotherapy, support of others and means of self-help. Nevertheless, mental disorders can lead to social exclusion and marginalization, making it even harder for people to get back on the right track.

Common Mental Disorders

Sometimes, the presence of anxiety or fears in the lives of people may lead to a rise of anxiety disorders or phobias, both of which are classified as mental disorders. The same factors trigger social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In some other cases, people's emotions or moods may also be affected by mental disorders. The underlying problems are, in such case, major or clinical depression or bipolar disorders. In bipolar disorder, a person goes through manic states only to end up in a depressed mood, repeating the cycle constantly. Both depression and bipolar disorders are commonly triggered by traumas from childhood or the past, or dissatisfaction and negative factors in life in general.

Other types of disorders are psychotic ones, affecting the patterns of belief, one's use of language and perception in general. Schizophrenia and delusional disorders belong to this category. If schizophrenia and affective disorders appear in a single person together, the mental disorder is named schizoaffective disorder.

Eating and sleeping disorders also belong to the list, together with identity and sexual disorders, tic disorders, addictions and various others.

Either way, the personality of a person is affected in practically all mental disorders. This means that a person suffering from mental disorders usually becomes maladaptive and abnormally rigid.

Causes of Mental Disorders

Due to the fact that mental disorders represent a very broad term, causes of these health problems are various and usually combined. However, most experts agree that genetic vulnerabilities for suffering from mental disorders exist, especially when the victim is exposed to specific stressors in his/her environment.

Most commonly, physical, sexual or mental abuse in the past of an individual, gives rise to mental disorders appearing later in life. Emotional abuse and neglect during childhood are also crucial breaking points for the development of mental disorders later on.

As far as western psychiatry is concerned, it focuses on causes behind mental disorders on a specific model, called the biopsychosocial model, encompassing biological, psychological and social factors. So, different branches of psychology can be involved in the diagnosis of different types of mental disorders. For example, biopsychiatry focuses on the brain and the organic causes.

Indisputably, studies show that genes are involved in the genesis of mental disorders too. However, this area of science is still to be fully developed and, then, more accurate theories about genetic causes of mental disorders will appear.

Sometimes, the diagnosis of mental disorders depends on the models used. Medical model and social model are often used for assessing a disorder or a mental disability. On the other hand, direct injuries to the brain can make a person more prone to suffering from mental disorders too. Viral infections, substance abuse and lack of general physical health are all possible triggers of mental disorders as well.

Additionally, some studies have shown that females who use oral contraceptives based on progesterone, have greater chances of suffering from mental disorders, even though this theory is not supported by many.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization claims that 1 in every 4 people develops at least a single mental disorder at some point of his/her life. This fact leads to our current, global state, with 450 million people suffering from mental disorders, making mental illnesses more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Once the mental condition has been diagnosed, through various tests and physical examinations, mental health experts usually suggest treatments through medications, psychotherapy and certain lifestyle changes. However, due to the lack of time and money necessary for further researches in the field of psychology and psychiatry, more detailed diagnostic evaluations of patients are not yet possible.

Mental disorders are more common that we perceive them to be. They can be caused by many factors, depending on the environment and the past of the patient. Therefore, treating mental disorders is also a complicated process.

Yet, early diagnosis of a mental disorder can increase chances of a successful treatment significantly.

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