“My depression seems to flare up during times when I am stressed and isolated from other people.”

This statement seems to resonate with so many people as one of the main causes of mental illness. Life stressors in isolation are indeed a breeding ground for mental health issues. The lack of social interaction tends to wall people off from sharing their burden, when we all know the common adage that a problem shared is a problem half-solved.

Childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect is also a leading cause of mental health issues. Additionally, experiencing discrimination and stigma, social disadvantage, poverty or debt are also high on the list according to research by the World Health Organization.

Research further suggests that some mental health problems may run in families. For example, if you have a parent with schizophrenia, you are more likely to develop schizophrenia yourself. But no one knows if this is because of our genes or because of other factors, such as the environment we grow up in, or the ways of thinking, coping and behaving that we may learn from our parents.

Finances also play a major role in mental health. A lack of basic necessities contributes greatly to overall wellness. Unemployment or losing your job which can lead to homelessness or poor housing has a negative effect on one’s view of themselves, which can create problems with esteem and consequently the sanctity of one’s mental health.

Drug and alcohol misuse is also a main cause of mental illness. This is because of the depressing effects of alcohol, as well as the psychotic effects dugs have. Domestic violence, bullying or other abuse as an adult can also heavily impact mental health.

Other factors that could be amongst the main causes of mental illness include:

  • Bereavement (losing someone close to you)
  • Severe or long-term stress,
  • Having a long-term physical health condition
  • Being a long-term carer for someone
  • Significant trauma as an adult, such as military combat, being involved in a serious incident in which you feared for your life, or being the victim of a violent crime
  • Physical causes – for example, a head injury or a neurological condition such as epilepsy can have an impact on your behaviour and mood. (It’s important to rule out potential physical causes before seeking further treatment for a mental health problem).
  • Poor nutrition and exposure to toxins, such as lead, may play a role in the development of mental illnesses.

Additionally, personality factors such as perfectionism or low self-esteem can increase the risk of depression or anxiety.

It is of utmost importance for us to take care of our mental health, especially during this time when there are increased stressors, and there is a dip in the collective mental health.

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