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The general public has limited understanding of what mental illnesses are and what might cause them as well as the predispositions which may lead to such ailments. It is also true that most people usually associate mental illnesses with hereditary acquisition while others see them as curses. This paper outlines what mental illnesses are, discusses at length the causes and deliberates on some possible forms of treatments.

Mental illness is any kind of ailment which interferes with the normal functioning of the brain. This ultimately influences the feelings, moods, behavior, thinking, and how an individual relates to another. Additionally, an affected person will develop medical conditions that greatly impair his or her capacity to be in control of the usual requirements of existence. Mental illnesses are of various levels of seriousness and the most detrimental include schizophrenia, major depressions, bipolar disorders, and the obsessive compulsive disorder (Bennett, 2004).  Other illnesses include post traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and borderline personality disorder. It is important to note that mental illnesses are not selectively acquired because they can affect people of all genders classes, ages, and even religion and do not, in any case, arise from individual predisposition or poor parenting. It has however been found out that mental illness affect individuals when they are at their most productive ages (during adolescents) though all ages are as well very vulnerable. The effects of these illnesses on the society and the individual are devastative and ranges from homelessness and drug abuse to suicide and wasted lives (Thompson, 2006).

It is not easy to clearly point out the exact cause of any particular mental illness though recent studies have linked most illnesses to a combination of biological, psychosocial and environmental aspects. In the biological point of view, it has been found out that mental disorders can be aggravated by the abnormal balance of chemicals like the neurotransmitters. Since these chemicals play a vital role in information passage within the brain, any imbalance may result in poor interpretation of messages and this may eventually lead to a manifestation of the symptoms. Accidents which lead to an injury or damage of brain tissue may also be a possible source of mental illnesses. Some infections in the brain have also been blamed to contribute to mental illnesses and are frequently caused by streptococcus bacteria (Bennett, 2004). This is the bacteria which contribute to an establishment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Other causes have been linked to long abuse of drugs, exposure to toxins, prenatal damage, and heredity.

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Among the psychological causes of mental illnesses are emotional and physical trauma, early loss of parent, neglect, and inability to relate well with others. The environmental causes include living in poverty, poor family life, death or divorce of a partner, anxiety, and even anger and loneliness (Thompson, 2006). These are the factors which may cause mental illnesses in one way or the other. Any incident which promotes the existence of many causes will increase the chances of someone being mentally ill. The possibility to identify a particular cause of a mental illness has led to the formulation of suitable ways to treat the disorders. It is important to note that mental illnesses are treatable just like other ailments and best results are achieved when affected the person takes the initiative.

The methods that are generally employed in the treatment of mental illnesses fall into two groups. Treatments can be psychotherapeutic or somatic nature. The first method incorporates therapy of an individual, family, and their behavior (Compton & Kotwick, 2007).  This is mostly done by psychotherapists who are professionally trained to do administer mental treatment with limited use of medicine. This can also be done by other medical practitioners like nurses and psychiatric social workers. An example of therapy administered for example is the psychodynamic psychotherapy where treatment is done through identification of unconscious pre-existing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Interpersonal therapy on the other hand involves treating individuals to improve their relationships with others. Drugs are also used in the treatment of mental illnesses and they include the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like prozac and celexa. Such illnesses can also be treated through the administration of antidepressant to the patient and use of anti-anxiety medications among others (Compton & Kotwick, 2007).

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