What Causes Mental Health Problems – A Quick Guide

What Causes Mental Health Problems – A Quick Guide

There are many causes of mental health problems. There are currently more than 200 classified forms of mental illness.

Some of these conditions like arachnophobia are pretty common and don’t cause too much of an issue since many people have a fear of spiders.

Some common conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia are much more serious, challenging to live with, and a lot harder to treat. 

It seems like just about everyone is suffering from some form of mental disorder. What causes mental health problems? How are these problems diagnosed and treated? 

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This guide takes a closer look at the most common factors that contribute to mental health problems so you can see whether you are at greater risk of developing these problems. 

What Causes Mental Health Problems?

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There are many causes of mental health problems and some people are more likely to develop these issues than others.

The same condition can also manifest very differently in each person and the extent of its effects can vary depending on life stage. 

It is also true that just about every person on earth suffers from some mental health condition at one point or another but not all people will develop permanent or long-term mental health problems. 

As with any health issue, prevention is always better than treatment but before you can attempt to prevent these conditions, it is important to find out what triggers these issues. Here is a quick look at some of the most common causes of these difficult conditions.

Biological Factors that Cause Mental Illness

Some people are biologically more likely to develop mental health conditions. Various biological factors can contribute to these conditions.


Some mental health conditions are hereditary and can be passed down from one family member to another through genes. In most cases, these conditions are usually triggered by a combination of genetic susceptibility and other influences like stress, abuse, and other traumatic events.


Certain types of infections or diseases have been known to result in brain damage and may result in mental health conditions.

Brain Trauma or Defects

Brain defects or injuries are often linked to mental illness because these conditions tend to alter brain chemistry and may cause a chemical imbalance. Autism spectrum disorder, for example, is often linked to a lack of oxygen during birth.

Prenatal Damage 

Many believe that issues during fetal development or trauma during the time of birth can result in certain types of mental health conditions. 

Substance Abuse

Abusing substances like alcohol and drugs for long periods of time may also result in certain mental conditions.

Other Biological Factors

Many other biological risks factors like poor nutrition, brain cancer, exposure to toxins, and aging can also contribute to these types of conditions. 

Psychological Factors that Cause Mental Health Disorders

People can also develop mental health conditions when they experience psychological factors like the following;

  • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • Tremendous psychological trauma such as vehicle accidents 
  • Extreme shock 
  • Death of a loved one
  • Parental neglect
  • An inability to socialize and relate with those around you
  • Bullying or emotional abuse by a partner, family member, or peers

Environmental Factors that Cause Mental Health Conditions

The environment we live and function in can also cause mental instability. These everyday stressors include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • A lack of stability due to constantly switching schools or homes
  • Unrealistic expectations from family, friends, or your local community
  • Substance abuse by someone in your family
  • Stressful work environment
  • Unpleasant life experiences

Mental health conditions can be caused by any one of these biological, environmental, or psychological factors. Most mental health professionals do, however, believe that a combination of these factors usually triggers these conditions. 

Who is at Risk of Developing Mental Disorders?

Anyone can be at risk of developing a mental health disorder because there are so many causes of these problems. 

If you have family members who struggle with mental health conditions, there is a higher chance of developing mental health issues of your own.

People with a history of abuse or who endured traumatic experiences are also more likely to develop conditions like depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder compared to those who had a generally healthy and happy upbringing. 

It is also true that certain types of personalities like introverts are also more likely to develop conditions like OCD, anxiety, or depression because these people tend to feel more stressed in average situations and they are a lot more sensitive to critique. 

How are Mental Disorders Diagnosed?

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Mental health disorders need to be diagnosed and treated by a healthcare provider or psychologist. The diagnosis usually includes several steps.

Step 1 – Medical History

First, the medical history of the patient is carefully analyzed and considered.

Step 2 – Physical Examination 

After this, a physical examination is done which may include lab tests. These physical examinations are usually done so psychologists can rule out physical health problems that might cause mental health symptoms. A good example of a physical condition that might seem like a mental health issue is iron deficiency. The patient might seem to be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome while a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream is the actual cause of the problem.

Step 3 – Psychological Evaluation

After the physical examination, a psychological evaluation should be done. This is usually done by a psychologist but can sometimes be done by your primary care doctor in case of conditions like depression.

During these evaluations, you will need to answer lots of questions about your feelings, history, previous experiences, behavior, and goals.

What are the Treatments for Mental Health Disorders?

The treatment for mental health conditions can greatly vary for each type of disorder and the intensity of the disorder. The treatment plans for these conditions also usually include various remedies.


Medication is often prescribed for these conditions because these medications help control the chemicals in your brain. When these chemicals are balanced they can eliminate some of the negative side effects of mental health conditions.

Someone with depression can benefit a great deal from antidepressants. Someone with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, will perform much better in school if they take medication that can slow down the neurotransmitters in the brain so they can focus better. 

Diet Therapy

Diet therapy is used as an additional treatment for all sorts of mental health conditions like ADHD, insomnia, and even eating disorders because the type of food you consume can have such a huge impact on the chemicals in your brain and on the way you feel.

Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is extremely helpful for treating and managing all sorts of mental health conditions. Regular exercise has been known to reduce anxiety or panic disorder, depression, negative moods, and cognitive functioning and many also believe it can improve self-esteem.


You cannot treat or manage a mental health condition if you don’t know anything about it. Anyone who struggles with these conditions needs to learn more about the different triggers that might intensify these problems and different treatments for their condition.

Social Support

Social support can be enormously helpful in treating these conditions. Social support is especially helpful for people with conditions like depression and the support is enormously helpful for people who start to feel isolated because of their problems.


Proper self-care is tremendously helpful for treating and easing these types of mental health conditions. Self-care regimes like self-worth programs, activities like journaling, and including lots of programs and activities in your daily planner are good steps towards better mental health. It is also very good to take good care of your physical health and to get plenty of sleep and rest. 

Psychiatric Hospitals

Psychiatric hospitals are often needed for people who suffer from severe conditions or who cannot seem to find a way to manage their condition on their own. These facilities are also good for those who are at risk of hurting others or themselves. 

Final Thoughts

What causes mental health problems? The truth is that no one can say for sure what might be the root cause of these unpleasant conditions. These conditions can be triggered by a single bad experience or a number of different factors. 

It’s good to learn about the different factors that can cause these conditions so you know what to avoid or when to seek help. Learning more about factors that trigger mental health conditions will also spread awareness and might keep you or others around you from triggering these conditions in others.

A good example is someone who might be suffering from depression after being emotionally or physically abused as a child. As an adult, you can seek treatment and adjust your own parenting techniques so you won’t cause the same damage to your own child. 

There are many great treatments and mental health services out there and, with the right help, self-care routine, and treatment plan, your quality of life can greatly improve despite your medical condition.

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