What Causes Mental Health Disorders?

June 9, 2023

Mental health disorders—sometimes called mental illnesses—are a range of conditions that influence how an individual thinks, feels, and behaves. These include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. Determining the mental health disorder causes is essential to treat these conditions properly. 

Mental health disorders are complex and can have a range of causes and effects. They can affect people from all walks of life, whether young or old, male or female. With appropriate interventions such as therapy, individuals can learn to manage their disorder better so that it does not significantly impact their daily lives. It is essential to ensure that these resources are available for those in need. This helps them lead satisfying and fulfilling lives regardless of any mental health disorders present.

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health is one’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how they think, feel, and act, including their ability to handle stress and make healthy choices. Mental health conditions can range from mild, such as feeling stressed or depressed periodically, to severe conditions, like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Poor mental health also has profound implications for one’s daily life and routines, often making it difficult to function normally at work, at home, or in social settings.

Current State of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders are common in the United States, affecting more than 44 million people of all ages and demographics. Nearly one-half of all adults will meet the criteria for at least 1 mental disorder during their lifetime. Currently, approximately 1 in 5 American adults have a mental disorder. Unfortunately, only 41% of those affected received treatment or counseling from a mental health professional last year.

Increases in Recent Years

In 2015, there were 43% of adults with mental health disorders. More recently, these numbers have increased. Part of the increase was due to the COVID pandemic. Many people had difficulties adjusting to social distancing and remaining at home. 

However, the increase cannot be entirely attributed to the COVID pandemic alone. Another possible reason for the increase can be attributed to raising awareness about mental health conditions and encouraging people to seek treatment because they are not alone. 

Statistics on Specific Mental Health Disorders

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder, affecting around 40 million people in the U.S., or 18% of the population. 
  • Depression is the second-most commonly reported psychological disorder, with an estimated 16 million adults living with major depression at any time in 2019. 
  • Social anxiety disorder is the third-most common mental health disorder, affecting 15 million adults aged 18 and over.
  • Bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.8% of American adults aged 18 and over each year, representing 6.1 million people. 
  • Approximately 9.2 million adults in the U.S., or 3.8% of the population, have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 
  • Eating disorders affect around 20 million women and 10 million men in America at some point in their lives, making it one of the most prevalent mental health disorders among Americans. 
  • Agoraphobia, the fear of being outside or in large open spaces, affects an estimated 3.2 million adults aged 18 and over yearly. 
  • Panic disorders affect 22% of Americans aged 18 and over every year, corresponding to 6 million adults at any given time. 

Types of Mental Health Disorders

Several types of mental health disorders can affect people. Some of the more common ones include anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative disorders, bipolar affective disorder, depression, eating disorders, paranoia, personality disorders, schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and social anxiety disorders. 

Mental Health Disorder Causes

A complex combination of social, biological, and psychological factors causes mental health disorders. These can include things like a family history of mental health disorders, traumatic life events such as abuse or neglect, or certain medical conditions like cancer. Other factors include substance use problems and addiction, or stressful changes in life circumstances like losing a loved one. 

It is important to remember that the exact cause of any particular mental condition depends on the individual, genetic influences, and other risk factors. As such, seeking medical care to uncover the underlying causes of a particular mental health disorder is essential. 

Is There a Difference Between Trauma and PTSD?

Trauma is an emotional or psychological response to a difficult event, experience, or life circumstance. Traumatic experiences can range from a single event, such as being in an accident or experiencing violence (sexual assault, domestic violence), to long-term situations, like growing up with abusive or detached parents or having chronic health problems. 

People who have experienced traumas may go through symptoms of distress and anxiety that gradually fade over time. This is unless they develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The main difference between trauma and PTSD is that people who experience PTSD often continue their disturbing thoughts.

They may also endure reminders of the traumatic event, and be hyperarousal for months or even years after the incident. Furthermore, they experience significant disruption in daily functioning due to the intensity of the symptoms, including difficulty sleeping and eating, irritability, angry outbursts, and concentration difficulties. 

How Therapy Helps Mental Health Disorders

Therapy treatment focuses on helping individuals work through their mental health disorders, providing them with the necessary tools and resources to manage symptoms better. Therapists offer individualized care plans tailored to the person’s unique needs. Then they learn how to cope with any challenges they may be facing. 

As therapy progresses, individuals build resilience and self-confidence to manage life stressors more easily and effectively. Therapy can also help individuals identify unhelpful thoughts or behaviors that may exacerbate their disorder. This encourages awareness of key triggers of negative emotions. People can learn how best to address these issues without letting them get out of control.

Personalized Mental Health Therapy in Chattanooga, TN

At Time Wellness in Chattanooga, Tennessee we offer individualized treatment plans. We also offer evidence-based therapies, GeneSight testing, and group therapy options to create a plan that meets your specific needs.

Contact us today to book your initial consultation.