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Mental Health Center

Mental Health Risks

Mental health affects a person's behavior, emotions and thought process. There are a myriad of factors that can lead to mental illness. Left untreated, mental health disorders sometimes lead to physical health problems.

Signs and Symptoms

The causes of mental illness vary, as do the signs and symptoms of each specific type of mental health disorder. The overt signs and symptoms of mental illness can include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Insomnia
  • Change in eating habits
  • Altered sexual desire
  • Withdrawal from socializing with friends
  • Unable to deal with daily life
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Display of anger, violence or hostility
  • Thoughts of suicide

Sometimes, the patient is unable to recognize the severity of their symptoms and a significant other must intervene and initiate a healthcare evaluation and treatment plan.

Risk Factors to Developing Mental Illness

There are many different factors that can increase a person's risk of developing a mental illness. Being aware of inherited and environmental influences is important.

  • Inheriting a trait by having a parent or sibling with a mental illness
  • In utero exposure to a virus or poor maternal nutrition during pregnancy
  • A traumatic brain injury
  • Stressful life situations such as divorce, a financial crisis, or the death of a family member
  • A chronic medical diagnosis like cancer, multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Being physically or sexually abused as a child
  • Using illegal drugs
  • Changes in brain chemistry, specifically the production of neurotransmitters like endorphins, which act as mood elevators, and other hormones

Negative Effects of Mental Health

Long-term mental illness sometimes results in physical health problems. Left untreated, mental health issues can manifest into the following symptoms:

  • Digestive problems
  • Chronic headaches
  • Clammy skin and sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in weight
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Back pain

What else can happen as a result of a mental illness? Such diseases affect many social aspects of a patient's life. Here are the areas most negatively affected:

  • Work ethic and missed work time
  • Missed school and a change in grades
  • No enjoyment from life
  • Family conflicts
  • Strained relationships
  • Social withdrawal

It is important to seek advice and treatment of any new or chronic medical condition from your primary care physician. Mental illness and the accompanying physical symptoms will not resolve without an appropriate treatment plan.

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