What are the Causes of Mental Disorders?

Updated at: Jan 18, 2013
What are the Causes of Mental Disorders?

Mental Disorders- Genetic factors, psychological trauma and environmental stressors are some of the main causes of mental disorders.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Mental HealthWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Jan 18, 2013

What are the Causes of Mental Disorders

Many people consider mental illness a result of personal weakness or a character defect, but the experts suggest that these are definitely not the cause of any mental disorder. The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not understood, but experts consider that many of the mental disorders may be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors.


Heredity (genetics)


The exact genes or the extent to which genetic factors contribute to the development of any mental disorder is not clear, but many mental illnesses run in families. This suggests that these disorders may be passed on from parents to children through genes, however, this does not necesserily suggest that you will develop a mental disorder because your parents have one. The term 'hereditary' means that you are at a higher risk of developing the condition because you have an affected family member. Experts are of the opinion that most mental illnesses are linked to problems in multiple genes and not just one. Apart from this reasoin, there are certain factors such as psychological trauma and environmental stressors that also influence the development of mental disorder in a person who has inherited a vulnerability to it.




The brain contains several neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that help in the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain and through the nerves. An imbalance of these special chemicals in the brain has been linked to the development of several mental disorders. For instance, in people with depression, the neurotransmitters, noradrenaline and serotonin are decreased in the brain. Apart from this damage, defects or injury to brain are also responsible for some mental conditions.


Psychological trauma


The human mind can be affected by psychological trauma such as severe emotional, physical or sexual abuse in childhood such as the loss of a parent and neglect.


Environmental stressors


Certain stress factors such as loss of job, death or divorce, a dysfunctional family life and substance abuse can trigger mental illness in people who are at an increased risk.


Most of the mental illnesses are treatable with medicines or counselling or both. Recovery from a mental illness is not possible just by being strong in the mind and self-discipline. If you think you have symptoms suggestive of any mental disorder, consult a doctor at the earliest; the earlier you seek treatment the easier it is to recover.


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