And so, we need to think about what are the factors that can impact our mental health?
Well, mental health is about physical health, too.
We want to keep our bodies healthy.
It's about our emotional health.
About keeping our thoughts and our emotions in a positive place.
And it's also about our mental health,
about being able to feel that we are connected,
that we are worthwhile and that we have something to contribute.
It's important to remember too that anything that interferes
with the development of and function of our brain, like an inflammation, a disease process,
any time in our life, that can affect an individual's mental health.
So, what are some of the things that cause mental illness and mental health?
Well, there are genetics.
Our genes sometimes hold the key to some of these psychiatric disorders.
And if we have a genetic predisposition, if our genetics are in such a way,
that we find ourselves, a child being born, may have at birth,
a genetic problem that predisposes them to a psychiatric disorder.
It can also be epigenetics.
The epigenetics are what's going on during that fetal period
and how does that impact perinatally this developing fetus, as well as at the time of birth.
Now, there are also brain abnormalities or illnesses that can also be genetic
or they can be epigenetic or they can actually be acquired during our lifetime.
Finally, there are risk factors for psychiatric diseases.
Of course, there's that epigenetic piece,
but psychiatric disorders can be acquired during our lifetime
and sometimes they're an outcome of some infectious diseases.
So what are the risk factors?
When we look more closely at genetics,
we understand that there may be a family genetic susceptibility for certain diseases,
and so we want to ask, when we look at a family member
when we're taking an intake on a patient, we want to find out if there is any family history.
The kinds of diseases that we do find that are more common in one in family
are schizophrenia, bipolar disease, depression, substance use disorder,
autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit disorder.
So understanding that there is a genetic piece to these mental illnesses,
really allows us to really take a good history
and see what we can do to make sure that this person is functioning at their mental best.
Some other risk factors are those epigenetics I spoke about.
And that's the external or environmental factors that impact gene functioning.
It's not the gene itself, but it's the functioning of that gene
that is impacted by those external or environmental factors,
so what happens is that this change might produce a marker or a tag on a gene,
so we call it an epigenetic tag.
Now, mothers, perhaps, will use cocaine during pregnancy,
that impacts the offspring's rate of relapse in drug recovery.
This is really important to understand and that's why when we are talking to our patients,
we talk to them about -- was there anything unusual in your family?
Is there a history of substance use or abuse? Is there a family history?
We also have to think about the possibility of brain injury and brain abnormalities.
Psychiatric disorders are brain disorders.
And it's really important to consider these things,
because it is a brain disorder and it's not anything that we have to be worried about
and it's nothing that we should feel is stigmatizing.
So a brain injury or a brain abnormality, will interfere with the structure
and the function of the brain, and so something like traumatic brain injuries for example,
and these are things that we find that there's more depression in a person
whose had concussive disease. They've suffered concussions once or twice.
When they are multiple concussions, we find that there's an increase rate of suicide.
We also see personality changes among other psychiatric diagnosis when there is TBIs.
There's been a lot of study being done on kids now, in contacts sports,
as well as football injuries, where there is repeated contact, head to head contact.
Where they are finding that there are TBIs.
Neurological disorders also increase the cases of TBI brain abnormalities,
so we really want to be considering these factors of brain development.
If we think about the environmental factors and infectious diseases,
and how these can also cause illnesses that affect the functioning of the brain.
Consider adverse childhood experiences or ACEs.
If a child is abused or neglected during those primary years,
that environment of neglect or abuse increases the likelihood of having a mental illness.
Also toxins. When we think about lead in the water or lead paint,
these also can affect a child's growth and development, brain wise.
Infectious disease like syphilis that goes untreated.
This ends up being a brain disease that is going to be causing different psychiatric disorders.