Mental Illness: A Chemical Imbalance? Hereditary? Trauma Based? Or a Little Bit of Everything?

A discussion regarding "mental illness".  A chemical imbalance in the brain? Hereditary? Trauma based? Or a little  bit of everything?

Let me begin by stating that I am a Psychology major. I am graduating at the end of the year with a Bachelor's degree. I am passionate about the study behind certain behavioral patterns and mental processes. Unfortunately, there is a stigma revolving around these diagnoses, people discrediting the efficacy of Psychiatry and stating the pharmaceutical industry is out for themselves.

The information provided in the textbook is enticing, presenting diagrams of the brain and elaborating on the construction of neurotransmitters, sending these signals that generally elicit a response. Anti-depressants, commonly known as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), are one of the most prescribed medications in the country today. As an individual that has tested out a few of these Psychiatric medications to determine a regiment that is best suited for my anxiety and depression, I have come to the conclusion that medicine is not a resolute solution.

I am a human being that has their demons and deals with struggles, similar to every individual on the face of this planet, who wants to find a way to work with what they have. To others, I may be considered weak. Personally, I believe the medication has the ability to calm me down when I am feeling rather anxious or stabilize my mood to avoid a depressive mindset. However, I still experience flashbacks that can damper my brief, optimistic frame of mind.

I have attempted to attend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a form of talk therapy to vent and find a way to deal with these negative thought patterns. Has it assisted? Not really. At the end of that fifty minute session, I am back to reality and have to take the initiative to make use of the therapist's coping strategies. It has taken time to learn to deal with these self-deprecating thoughts and will not come easily, a process that needs to be implemented on numerous occasions.

I can understand the stigma with mental illness, hence, there were numerous individuals that also experienced severe trauma, a significant amount of years ago and did not have the option to consume medication or undergo counseling sessions.

Yet again, I have an illness that can present itself in a situational circumstance. A loved one passed away? We will most likely experience sadness for a prolonged amount of time. Have to take the GRE to get into the Graduate school of your dreams? You will most likely be very tense and worried.

However, what about those that are Schizophrenic? Or have Dissociative Identity Disorder? Do they choose to hear and see things that are not present because they are "weak"?

There is not always going to be one specific cause behind the diagnosis of these diseases. Whether its environmental, hereditary or because of a chemical imbalance, it is still a hindrance that affects the functioning of millions of individuals.

Everyone has a story to tell and yes, life can be a shit fest. If someone reaches out, lend a hand and take time to listen to what they have to say. We all need a hug at the end of the day.

Premise of the composition: These illnesses feel real, even if you cannot physically see it. Do not dismiss what you do not understand immediately. There is not one specific way to go about handling what is bothering an individual, whether it is Psychology based or not. It is all about trial and error.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • Psychiatry is still quite young, then again I guess you can state that about everything really. The issue with psychiatry is the broad collections of symptoms and often without a real value for cause. Take depression as an example. You have three people, John, Adam and Sophia.
    John's family has a history of depression. John himself has suffered episodes of depression which weighs him down at times.
    Adam's father died when Adam was young, Adam misses him a lot despite years having passed.
    Sophia lost her mother when she was young. She no longer has any contact with her relatives, she can't seem to hold on to a job because of her depression and she has pushed all her friends away. Sophia is now about to lose her home and owes a lot of companies money.
    John, Adam and Sophia all have depression. How do you treat depression? Will Sophia be fine because her doctor gives her a medication? It's a big issue when these three people enter a study on the effectiveness of depression. For people like John, these drugs tend to work quite well. On people like Adam they have a large likelihood to work. On people like Sophia drugs tend to not work very well as it's simply too complicated, she has no support structure at all, just chaos. Depression as in this example needs more efficient subdividing. Mild, moderate, major and so on is not enough. To make matters worse we in the western world don't really value guidance through life anymore.
    Talking about mental illness as one thing doesn't really help the conversation much either. By going from talking affective disorders to talking ex. Schizophrenia is like talking weather and gang activity, sure it's going on in the same place yet very different.
    To crudely answer the question if Schizophrenics and DID folks choose to hear/see things, yes they do. We do not control our brain, our brain is us. So in the case of our brain giving us false impressions, we're the ones doing that. Because our brain is us and we are our brain. Call it weakness if you want. ;)

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Most Helpful Girl

  • Coming from someone who has been at battle with major depression disorder, panic disorder, bipolar1, and most recently ptsd it is a terrible stigma to have to defend constantly. We suffer in silence as if we can help the way we feel or like being sad, feeling worthless, reclusive, and imagine different ways to end it for all and go to sleep forever. Meds have periodically worked for me, but then it's like they pop out and aren't effective anymore SSRI's especially. It's seeming that slowly people are starting to understand that it is a disease or condition just like diabetes is and we're not just freaks that need to go into an institution for the rest of our lives and feel ashamed because we feel and think differently than 'normal society' In my opinion therapy is useless. I pray to God that some of new medicine that in trail periods right now have a breakthrough and really do help us live a life that isn't dark all the time, and be free of the uneducated and arrogant people that minimize our condition as if they know what it's like going to sleep every nite hoping that you don't wake up in the morning.

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    • Most of neural inhibition is diet-based. Then emotional needs not being met.

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What Guys Said 36

  • What I'd like to know is how do you measure the chemical imbalance? is there any proof that such a thing actually exists? When I suffered with depression in the past I was just told that that was what it was - no tests were done and as far as I'm aware there isn't one.

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    • There is a blood test available that will measure all of your neurotransmitters, but it costs something like $500 USD. Most doctors are not willing to request that test, knowing that their patients will likely not be able to afford it.

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    • There are brainscans that show certain parts of the brain triggered by a diagnosis, such as bipolar disorder. The brain scan highlights brain activity that is either stimulated or considerably inactive for a person with a diagnosis and compares it to a normal brain. These scans can prove the severity of mental illness.

    • There are PET scans and fMRI yes, but they aren't clinical tools. Psychiatric disorders differ between people, many psychiatric disorders share symptoms, many psychiatric disorders share affected brain areas and most importantly there is a huge variation when it comes to brain activity within groups with specific psychiatric disorders. The latter is one of the major factors to why neither PET or fMRI are validated as tools for diagnosis. These scans cannot prove the severity either because there as well they're not validated.

  • In some cases, it's thought that genes are activated when certain events occur, of maybe even biochemically. It's all very complex, and as a layperson, the suggestion that it's a combination of factors sounds most likely to me.

    Agree that medication is not a solution by itself, and I hope everyone finds what works for them personally.

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    • Yes, exactly. Medicine has assisted me tremendously, however, I practice mindfulness through meditation and speaking with others to rationalize the negative cognizance. Therapy is a great solution for some too.

  • Some things that are very real and very traumatic still exist in the mind and aren't just a chemical imbalance in the brain, and can only be fixed in the mind, not by throwing drugs at the brain. Modern psychology totally ignores the inner work that can be done to heal oneself and focuses way too much on the idea of chemical imbalances and psychoactive drugs

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  • I have a funny personality
    Not sure If I have one or the 2 or 4. lol
    cluster B? any ideas for self-diagnosed? I check every site, I hit at least 2. They're all too similar to tell apart. What would you recommend?

    ( I feel normal)

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  • Psychology is a complicated issue for anybody new to the subject. I really like this take, but it will probably fall on deaf ears because people that don't know about mental illness refuse to listen to the science behind it. They just want to believe people are faking it or they have demons or that medication is just a scam.

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  • Medication helped me not want to kill myself. But I needed talk therapy/ a lot of soul searching and reflecting to actually pick up the pieces after breaking, and start to find ways to improve my life and live fulfilled (still working on it)

    I reflect on my childhood faux happiness (ignorant of all but the moment) and find i much prefer the tranquility of my new found 'sad happiness'

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  • There is Funxion - measured in type and degree. Physical configuration underlines - genetic, then development. Environment influences; genetic potentialities mediate.

    Psychology and Psychiatry have no relevance. Neurology serves to illuminate physical operation. Mammals experience emotion.

    There are two questions a feeling entity need ask: how do I feel? how do I want to feel?

    Everything after that goes into facilitating the latter - until the former is again asked.

    Fini

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    • See, kids. when you pull the rug out from the Society Reggies, they run run away. Astoriana is added to the list.

  • Mental illness can come in many ways, is not that different from physical illness. It can be hereditary, it can be caused by extrincsic factors, etc. Like a physical illness if you don't treat it, it get worst.

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  • yep, its a sticky subject and its hard to address such an invisible enemy

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  • Everything, but environment and hormones are going to do all the work. If you just did not have the best chance in life, the odds are stacked against you.

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  • Combination of all or some. But any of those reasons could also stand alone

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    • OP if u have any problems, i hope u seek help. Nothing is impossible

  • All the factors mentioned in the question can cause mental health problems

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  • If you read the DSM anyone can have a medical/mental issues.

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  • Really Good Take. It's only recently I've been reading up on mental illness and trying to understand how works/treated and I must say it's tough.

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    • Thanks, yes it is certainly complex.

    • Did you only attend 1 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy session?

    • A few. It might have been a bad match with the therapist, differing personalities I guess. After looking for a while, I found one who seems to be a good fit.

  • I’m mostly a geek in technology. Not my department. lol

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  • Little bit of everything

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  • Interesting myTake thank you

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  • All of the above.

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  • It is really interesting

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  • MIXED BAG OF NUTS

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What Girls Said 33

  • i think it's mostly trauma based and how equipped we are at the time. of course some may naturally be predisposed to a certain reaction to trauma.

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  • As someone who is in the process of getting her MA in clinical psychology, it can be a little bit of everything.

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  • As with all chronic illness, there is no miracle cure.

    What works for you could worsen someone else’s symptoms and vice versa. Thus, it’s important to keep in mind that certain treatment styles can still be beneficial, even if YOU personally haven’t found them helpful.

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    • Diet and emotional expression work for everyone, though there is a small number where more progressive neuro-chemical access is necessary. Pharmalogical approach is gross. Genetic therapy will succeed it.

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    • Psychology is an irrelevant field. As are psychiatry and philosophy.

      One, and not the only, instance of my experience regarding my statement is curing one of my exes of ADHD. Just went away in a few months.

    • @Ahsthen oh, so you’re not qualified at all. I thought not.

  • Its hard to generalize all mental illnesses, since their are hundreds of different types. but my theory is, some are caused by genetics, and others are caused by society.

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  • For many mental illnesses, direct underlying causes have not yet been discovered. This is (partly) due to the fact that there are so many different influences on the human mind (environment, genetics, trauma etc) and all those influences in turn influence each other. It's really hard to distinguish which influences are the ones responsible for certain mental illnesses. Research is trying hard to discover more about this, but at the moment all we can say is that it's complicated.

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  • Sometimes it can from one or the other and sometimes it can be a combination thing. Trauma definitely triggers it. So does agree. I've dealt with depression, anxiety and mood disorders for a long time. I just recently started on meds for them. And I don't feel like they do much of anything for me. So everyone and every case is different.

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  • What you should have learned is that the DSM only teaches you how to catergorise mental health problems. Treatments vary, as does thier intensity. The cause however should be reviewed with each individual case seen.
    It can be mostly biology e. g. bipolar disorder. Although, biology can also effect vulnerability to your environment or even resilience. It can be environmental e. g. neglect, drugs, war. It can be both.
    Go and study gene environment interactions if you’re really interested in this stuff. I don’t think you covered it in your undergrad since you didn’t mention it.

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    • I did learn a bit about epigenetics in Social Psychology.

  • I think it's both. You inherit the genes or the higher possibility of developing a mental illness, and trauma switches it on.

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  • It depends on the person and the situation. It can definitely be a bit of everything. I inherited my anxiety, but I do know many people who developed mental illness from trauma and experiences.

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  • Definitely a little bit of everything. Mental health issues run in my family up the wazoo, my mum had borderline personality disorder and bipolar, my dad has bipolar, and I have chronic major depression and generalized anxiety disorder. However, I also have PTSD because I was raped multiple times as a child, which I think is definitely part of why some of the depressive and anxiety symtoms came out anyways. I know that when I take my meds, I experience less of these symptoms, which tells me they definitely have to do with some kind of chemical imbalance that the medications are correcting, however the imbalance is not, in my opinion, the sole contributor

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  • Start with simple thing learn to let go what makes u uncomfortable... without giving urself an excuse to stay.

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  • It’s so weird how in my community (the black community) mental illness is taboo. It’s something you don’t acknowledge. It’s sadening.

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  • It's hard to know for sure what actually caused it. There are so many variables at play. It's why psychology is labeled a soft science.

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  • I suffer from mental disorder, and for me it's childhood trauma. There's a ted talk on this.

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    • The will and spirit of an entity can, like anything in life, dictate the degree they are influenced.

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    • @Ahsthen that i am ok, i am not evil and not everyone wants me to die. I Have learned it's ok to make mistakes, you just learn from it. You don't have to please everyone, even if it's your family. My happiness matters too. What i need is as important as others, we are all equally valuable.

  • I have borderline personality disorder. And although other factors might contribute to my mental illness. I strongly think that it's trauma based because as I was young I remember being molested by my dad while I was half asleep. I don't know if it really happened but my dad had done some creepy things that I believe that it did. Also, some fucking boys grabbed my ass when I was young and I was super traumatized by it. I also think being bullied severely (almost everyday in highschool) caused me to have low self esteem, to be needy, and have trust issues.

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  • Very interesting, thanks for sharing

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  • this is very well written. Good take

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  • Nice myTake.

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  • Nice take

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  • trauma

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