Psychiatric disorders affect millions of humans worldwide. They have adverse effects and interfere with person’s daily life if intervention is not provided. Conducting recent studies has enabled researchers to identify factors that increase the risk of developing any mental disease, involving individual’s genetics and the impact of stress experienced in one’s early life or a brain trauma. The current paper explores the main biological/personal and environmental causes of psychiatric disorders, including the role of neurotransmitters in this process.
The Role of Neurotransmitters
All actions of depend on neurons, which communicate with one another. It is possible because of neurotransmitters, which are natural brain chemicals that send signals to other parts of the human brain and the body. In other words, they carry chemical messages amid neurons. The process of impairing neural networks that involve chemicals and changing the function of nerve receptors and systems may cause depression. Neurons can communicate among themselves in the electrical form, for example, in areas of the human brain which control movements. In case such electrical signals become abnormal, they can be a reason for symptoms or tremors, which characterize Parkinson’s disease (National Institute of Mental Health, n.d.). Therefore, when neurotransmitters do not work correctly, their action can cause certain psychological disorders. Considering new tools in both genetics and neuroimaging, it should be mentioned that they help scientists make progress in exploring factors that cause mental disorders (Weir, 2012). Thus, psychological diseases possess multi-factorial etiologies, including a complex interplay between neurotransmitters, environmental and personal (genetic) factors.
Biological/Personal Causes of Psychiatric Diseases
A psychological disease is more common in individuals whose blood relatives have a mental disorder. Certain genes can increase the risk of developing the latter, and any life situation of that person may trigger it. According to the studies conducted on identical twins and mentally ill parents with their children, scholars indicated the relation between a genetic component and a psychiatric illness (National Institute of Mental Health, n.d.). However, the statement that the latter is hereditary is inaccurate. To be a hereditary trait, it must be passed in a direct way from one generation to the following; for example, from one grandparent to his/her grandchild. Although a mental disease is often present in families, it is not as hereditary as eye color or male pattern baldness. On the other hand, a psychiatric disorder is heritable meaning that humans inherit genes, which make them susceptible to it. As such, an illness is not a trait and cannot be passed directly from a mother or a father to a child. However, genes have the potential to make any mental disease active, and only they can be transmitted from one parent to the child (National Institute of Mental Health, n.d.). Thus, a mental disorder is indeed a genetic illness.
Taking into account the human brain, it can also be a cause of a psychiatric disorder because its structure, including neurochemicals and other molecules, can make it sensitive to any mental illness. For example, a traumatic brain injury, such as a violent hit on the head, can be a reason for developing a mental disease. Among other personal factors that can cause psychological disorders, there are problems during gestation or birth, alcohol abuse, recreational drugs, and such traumatic experiences as being assaulted or involved in a military combat (Weir, 2012). Thus, genetics and personal characteristics play an important role in developing mental diseases.
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Environmental Causes of Psychiatric Diseases
Considering the major causes of psychological disorders, researchers also pay their attention to the environment because it is the world where an individual lives and functions differently depending on external factors (Schmidt, 2007). Although it is a broad category with an extensive list of conditions, some of them are the most common causes of psychiatric diseases. Many people live being attacked by stressful life events, which are caused by various chronic stressors, such as social struggles or economic hardships. Experiencing severe trauma, such as sexual abuse, kidnapping, or torture, can increase the percentage of individual’s exposure to such mental illnesses as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Victor Carrion, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, suggested that such terrifying experience in combination with genetic vulnerability can double person’s risk of developing PTSD (as cited in Schmidt, 2007). A low quality of human life due to poverty or poor nutrition is also a reason for developing certain mental diseases. Exposure to toxins, especially at certain developmental stages, can contravene the normal functioning of the human brain and the body. Thus, it is also a basis for a psychiatric disorder. Any family or relationship issues, child violence, and lifestyle considerations related to substance abuse are also common environmental factors leading to mental illnesses. Although extreme adversities in individual’s environment can contribute to psychiatric diseases, the picture is quite complicated because it also depends on personal characteristics and genetic conditions (Schmidt, 2007).
Psychiatric disorders are common among people of various ages. Factors leading to the development of such health conditions have a wide range of obstacles, including genetics, as well as personal and environmental causes. The role of neurotransmitters is also essential because cases when they do not work correctly can lead to certain psychological disorders such as depression or Parkinson’s disease. Among major personal factors, there are genetics, injuries, traumatic experience, substance abuse, and issues during gestation or birth. Poverty, poor nutrition, exposure to toxins, chronic stressful situations, and any relationship issues are the most common environmental conditions leading to such diseases. Taking into account the main causes of mental illnesses, it is important to provide specific interventions to remove certain environmental threats, which result in psychiatric diseases because such preventive actions may decrease their prevalence.