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Risk Factors, Warning Signs, Causes

Know the potential risk factors, causes, and warning signs of mental illnesses, disorders, and struggling.

· Risk Factors - Cause

Potential Genetic and Environmental Causes:

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Inherited traits. Mental illness is more common in people whose blood relatives also have a mental illness. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situation 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.

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 and other emotional disorders.

Potential Risk-Increasing Factors:

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A history of mental illness in a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling.

Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one's death or a divorce.

An ongoing (chronic) medical condition, such as diabetes.

Brain damage as a result of a serious injury (traumatic brain injury), such as a violent blow to the head.

Traumatic experiences, such as military combat or assault.

Use of alcohol or recreational drugs.

A childhood history of abuse or neglect.

Few friends or few healthy relationships.

A previous mental illness."


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"Excessive worrying or fear.

Feeling excessively sad or low.

Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning.

Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria.

Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger.

Avoiding friends and social activities.

Difficulties understanding or relating to other people.

Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy.

Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite.

Changes in sex drive.

Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality).

Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia).

Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs.

Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”).

Thinking about suicide.

Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress.

An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance.

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