The term “mental illness” refers to a variety of health conditions that affect a person’s behavior, emotions and thought. They can include mood disorders (i.e. depression), anxiety disorders, eating disorders (i.e. bulimia nervosa), addictive behaviors (i.e. obsessive compulsive disorder) and schizophrenia.
Having mental health concerns is normal and common. That being said, being concerned about your mental wellbeing is not the same as being mentally ill. Since this is true, you need to know what mental illness risk factors are if you are worried about you or someone else developing mood disorders or other conditions that can affect the mind.
Although it is not entirely understood what causes diseases of the mind, there are certain mental illness risk factors that may increase an individual’s risk of developing one of these health issues such as:
- Family history of mental health problems – this may include having a sibling, parent or other relative biologically related to you who has an illness.
- Experiencing traumatic events – assault or other forms of abuse, war, etc.
- Struggling with life situations that cause extreme stress – divorce, the death of a loved one, financial troubles and so on.
- Child abuse or neglect.
- Substance abuse, especially illegal drugs.
- Chronic diseases – constantly having to face and deal with medical problems, such as cancer, can lead to the development of mood disorders in some people.
- Pregnancy – possibility of experiencing postpartum depression.
- Lack of socialization and isolation.
- Having many unhealthy relationships – having friendships or partnerships with others who are abusive and/or make you think and feel negatively about yourself.
- Babies Exposed to viruses or not receiving proper nutrition while in their mother’s womb.
While there may be other risk factors in addition to the ones mentioned above, it is important that you understand mental illnesses and mood disorders affect a wide range of people and can occur due to a complex interaction of factors that may be biological, environmental, genetic, and personality. These diseases don’t discriminate among age, gender, culture or social status.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that the mental illness risk factors for each condition will vary and for some mental disorders, women are at a higher risk of developing them than men and vice versa, while others primarily affect adults of certain age groups or the elderly.
What can you do to minimize your chances of suffering from mental or mood disorders? Obtain proper rest, meaningful employment and social support, find ways to reduce stress, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and inform your doctor about any health concerns – physical or mental – you may have.