1. What is mental/psychiatric illness?

Psychiatric disorders are health conditions involving changes in mood, emotion, thinking or behaviour. These disorders are associated with distress or problems functioning in social, work or family activities resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines.

Psychiatric disorders may be related to excessive stress due to a particular situation or series of events. As with other diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease; mental illnesses are often physical as well as emotional and psychological. Mental illnesses may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of these.

However general public has a lot of myths and misconceptions about psychiatric illness and end up discriminating against the mentally ill, forgetting or being unaware of the fact that these disorders are just like any other illness, and anyone amongst us might get affected by it.

2. What causes psychiatric disorders ?

Psychiatric disorders, in general, are thought to be caused by a variety of factors; the main factors are

  • Inherited traits.Psychiatric illness is more common in people whose blood relatives also have a similar illness. Certain genes may increase the risk of developing a mental illness, and stressful life situations may trigger it.
  • Environmental exposures before birth.Exposure to environmental stressors, inflammatory conditions, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb can sometimes be linked to mental illness.
  • Environmental exposure after birth.Stressful life situations with adverse living conditions are also a causal factor in psychiatric illness
  • Brain chemistry.neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression.

This is contrary to the popular belief that psychiatric illness is because of a god’s curse, bad karma or some supernatural phenomenon.

Know About Your Illness