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Causes of mental illness

What are the causes of

mental illness? Although the
exact cause of most mental
illnesses is not known, it is
becoming clear through
research that many of these
conditions are caused by a
combination of biological,
psycho-social ,Socio -cultural
and environmental factors.

Causes of mental illness: Predisposing factors:- these factors determine an

individuals susceptibility to mental illness. For e. g.
genetic make up , physical damage to the central
nervous system and psychosocial influences.
Primary factors :- these are events that occur
shortly before the onset of a disorder and appear
to have induced it. they are physical stress,
psychosocial stress.
Precipitating factors :- these factors are responsible
for aggravating or prolonging the diseases already
existing in an individual.

Biological factors
Genetics (heredity):

Many mental illnesses

run in families, suggesting that people who have a family
member with a mental illness are more likely to develop a
mental illness. Susceptibility is passed on in families
through genes. Experts believe many mental illnesses are
linked to abnormalities in many genes -- not just one. That
is why a person inherits a susceptibility to a mental illness
and doesn't necessarily develop the illness. susceptibility to
it.chomosomal increase or decrease may affect the
development of fetus. An extra chromosome may cause
Mongolism or Downs syndrome. Faulty genes also leads to
mental retardation .

Infections: Certain infections have been
linked to brain damage and the development
of mental illness or the worsening of its
symptoms. For example, a condition known as
pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric
disorder (PANDA) associated with the
Streptococcus bacteria has been linked to the
development of obsessive-compulsive disorder
and other mental illnesses in children.
Brain defects or injury: Defects in or injury
to certain areas of the brain have also been
linked to some mental illnesses

Prenatal damage: Some evidence suggests that a disruption
of early fetal brain development or trauma that occurs at the
time of birth -- for example, loss of oxygen to the brain -- may
be a factor in the development of certain conditions, such as
Substance abuse: Long-term substance abuse, in particular,
has been linked to anxiety, depression, and paranoia.
Other factors: exposure to toxins, such as lead,alchol,
barbiturates may play a role in the damage of brain tissues.
Biochemical factors:-Some mental illnesses have been
linked to an abnormal balance of special chemicals in the brain
called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help nerve cells in
the brain communicate with each other. If these chemicals are
out of balance or are not working properly, messages may not
make it through the brain correctly, leading to symptoms of
mental illness. In addition, defects in or injury to certain areas
of the brain have also been linked to some mental conditions.


Physical handicap:-like blindness, deafness and lameness

affect the self concept of an individual, as these are
stressful situations for adjustment. A person may socialize
very less and may develop feeling of inferiority, self pity
and sometimes hostility attitude also.
Physical deprivation:-( malnutrition and sleep deprivation
).severe malnutrition affects the physical and mental
growth of infant. they are most prone to any type of
infection, mental retardation and mental depression.
Disruptive Emotional factors :-its also causes many of
the mental disorders like psychosomatic disorders , for e. g.
peptic ulcer , hypertension and coronary heart disease.

Psychological Factors
Severe psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as
emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
Poor ability to relate to others
Maternal deprivation:-separation of mother from the child is
bound to affect his growth. the separation can be due to death
of mother. or loss of both parents.
Pathogenic family patterns :- faulty parent child
relationship also affect the behavior of a child. rejection by
parents can cause a feeling of anxiety, insecurity, low self
esteem and negativism. Over protection or domination of a
child by his parents may cause submissiveness. Lack of
discipline in children may result in aggressiveness and antisocial
Children's of pathogenic interpersonal relationship in disrupted
like marital harmony or broken homes go through a lot of stress.
Stress :- it is the major cause of mental illness.

Environmental Factors
Certain stressors can trigger an illness in a person
who is susceptible to mental illness. These stressors
Death or divorce
A dysfunctional family life
Living in poverty
Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety,
anger, or loneliness
Changing jobs or schools
Social or cultural expectations (For example, a
society that associates beauty with thinness can be a
factor in the development of eating disorders.)
Substance abuse by the person or the person's

Socio cultural factors :

Human being is a social animal. He lives in a community following

the norms, traditions and culture of the society. following are the
some factors which affect the development of abnormal behavior.
War and violence:- its leave an impact on the mental health of
Group prejudice:- such as religious intolerance and hostility may
affect the mental health of people when it is enforced by one
group on the other groups.
Economic and employment problem :- it is another
contributing factor to mental health. Sometime economic problem
leads to suicide and even homicide. On other hand the energetic
and educated young people feel frustrated due to unemployment
and rejection by the parents.
Technological and social changes :- rapid technological
changes causes too much stress in the people.

Physical causes
Huntingtons chorea
A disease of the brain. Surveys have shown that the first
diagnosis is wrong in at least a third of all cases, and amongst
the most commonly misdiagnosed is schizophrenia.
Head Injury
Damage to the brain. Damage may be accompanied by
personality changes and/or schizophrenia-like symptoms. It is
generally agreed that the risk of suicide is substantially increased
among head-injured patients, although the reason for this is not
This illness is so variable in its presentation that there is a case
for testing all patients admitted to psychiatric wards. If this
practice is not followed, tests should certainly be performed for
all psychiatric patients with symptoms or signs signalling organic
brain disease. Symptoms may include personality changes,
depression, delusions, and less commonly, mania and

Due to a number of infections, symptoms
may include depression and personality
Encephalitis lethargica
An infection of the brain which is sometimes
associated with personality change, but can
develop to a state resembling schizophrenia.
Cerebral abscess
An infection of the brain which can be
associated with symptoms of depression

Tuberculosis meningitis
A rare infection of the brain which can present as a change in
Subarachnoid haemorrhage
This is a bleed into the brain. A high incidence of mental
disorder has been reported after subarachnoid haemorrhage.
Organic psychiatric problems and adverse personality changes
are common, as well as significant depressive symptoms.
Cerebrovascular accident
Depressive symptoms are common after this type of injury.
Cerebral tumours
In psychiatric practice, cerebral tumours are easily overlooked.
Changes in personality can be indicative of a tumour.

Multiple sclerosis
A condition of the nervous system. In the early stages
symptoms may be mistakenly diagnosed as conversion or
dissociative disorder. Mood disorder has also been found
in about 50% of sufferers.
Occasionally a psychosis can be triggered if there is too
much thyroid hormone.
lack of thyroid hormones will produce mental effects
which can mean psychiatrists may be easily led to a
mistaken diagnosis of dementia / depressive disorder.
More rarely, other patients may develop a schizophrenia
disorder. Paranoid features are said to be common.

Addisons disease
Also known as hypoadrenalism. Addisons disease may be
misdiagnosed as dementia. Occasionally a depressive or
schizophrenic episode will occur with Addisons disease.
Cushings syndrome
Also known as hyperadrenalism, usually diagnosed from
physical symptoms. Depressive symptoms are the most
frequent psychiatric manifestations of Cushings syndrome,
paranoid symptoms are less common and appear mainly in
patients with severe physical illness.
Corticosteroid treatment
Psychiatric symptoms can be brought on by corticosteroid
treatment, and are similar to Cushings syndrome.

90% of patients with hypopituitarism have some
psychological symptoms, whilst half are likely to
have severe symptoms. Most common is
depression, but in severe cases symptoms may
be more like dementia.
Psychological symptoms are common and
among the most frequent is depression. Few
patients first present with psychiatric symptoms.

Usually due to removal of, or damage to the
parathyroid glands at Thyroidectomy.
Complications can include psychiatric conditions
including depression, but extreme reactions like
bipolar affective disorder and schizophrenic
disorders are rare but possible.

At times, the clinical features of this illness may
resemble those of almost any psychiatric
syndrome. The important diagnostic clue is the
recurrence of the attacks.

Liver disease
Psychiatric features of liver failure such as hallucinations,
are sometimes known as hepatic encephalopathy.
Acute Porphyria
This condition may resemble psychosis. Psychiatric
symptoms occur during the attack in a quarter to threequarters of cases, and at times dominate the clinical
picture. They include depression and disturbed behaviour.
Delusions and hallucinations often occur. The diagnosis is
made by the detection of substances in the urine.
Porphyria is not common, but is often missed when it
presents in psychiatric practice. It should be considered
whenever there is a long history of intermittent physical
and psychological complaints.

Vitamin B deficiency
Depression is often seen and sometimes a
paranoid hallucinatory state.
Particular difficulty may be experienced in
distinguishing complex forms of epilepsy
from certain kinds of psychiatric disorder.
Epileptic patients can sometimes have an
abnormal personality, and it may be
unclear if this is an expression of a
personality disorder