Mental health is a blanket term for several conditions, each with unique characteristics. They are often challenging to diagnose because the presentation of the symptoms can be similar. Only mental healthcare professionals can distinguish between them and make an accurate diagnosis.
Which conditions are classified as mental health conditions?
For the ill-informed, only a few mental health conditions exist. They will have heard about schizophrenia, which is often confused with multiple personality disorder. A lot of them know about the existence of depression and anxiety, although they assume these are issues of ‘mind over matter’.
However, there are far more mental health conditions people may struggle with than those few. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the autism spectrum, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also mental health conditions.
Holistic treatment options
The conventional approach to the treatment of mental health conditions involves medication prescribed by a doctor. A lot of patients don’t want to take medicine for their condition unless there are no alternatives.
Among the reasons they cite for this decision is that many medications for mental health conditions are habit-forming. Stopping their use can be a complicated process as the patient must wean themselves off the drugs. Other patients find that their medicines have side effects that are difficult to live with. These include digestive system disruptions, exacerbated symptoms, migraines, weight loss or gain, and changes in appetite or libido.
There is a more holistic strategy to treatment that many patients favor. It might still rely on a medicinal component but includes other approaches as well.
Spending time talking about some of the life circumstances that have led to a mental health condition like depression or anxiety is helpful. It deals with the cause of the condition instead of the symptoms. Victims of childhood trauma who have the chance to work through what has happened often report reduced symptoms. So do patients who learn techniques to reduce anxiety.
Some substances have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders for centuries. These include St. John’s Wort for depression. In recent times, there has been a growing interest in CBD products. Cannabidiol is found in plants from the cannabis family. It has been shown to augment the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system helps the body to regulate hormone levels, including transmitters like serotonin, allowing it to alleviate symptoms of depression
There is a growing demand for alternative practices from other cultures in the treatment of mental health conditions. These include yoga and meditation, which enhance mindfulness. Another treatment that is the choice of many patients is acupuncture, which reportedly alleviates some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Why do some people struggle with mental health conditions?
Is it nature vs. nurture? Why do some people experience mental health disorders while others don’t? How can two people come from the same circumstances, yet one has mental health problems, while the other doesn’t?
These are the types of questions people still ask about mental health conditions. They are valid questions as there seems to be no set formula that determines who will or won’t develop a mental health disorder.
The factors that contribute to mental health conditions are divided into three broad categories. Usually, a multiplicity of these factors exists in patients with mental illnesses.
- Biological factors include the improper functioning of the nerves and neural pathways in the brain. This can include an imbalance of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. A brain injury or defect can also play a significant part in causing a mental health condition. Substance abuse is a contributor. Genetics is another key biological factor. People who have family members with a mental illness are more likely to develop one than those that don’t.
- Psychological factors that can lead to mental illness include childhood trauma and neglect. Poor socialization skills taught at an early age predisposes a person to mental health disorders.
- Environmental factors that can cause mental health conditions include substantial life changes like death, divorce, a new job or school, and relocating. Dysfunctional family life also acts as a trigger.
If you suspect that you or a loved one might have a mental health condition, act now. Seek professional help for a diagnosis and a treatment plan.